Fernanda comes on board full with passion and immense drive to take on all the Tonantzin Society efforts. More specifically, she is thrilled to begin working on the undertakings regarding Cultural Relevant Pedagogy.
Fernanda was born in a border town in south Texas. Her parents migrated from the heart of México. Although both parents are now residents, that wasn’t always the story. Fernanda grew up with the fear that one day her parents would not show up to school because they had been deported. Having that possibility constantly in mind led her to realize the great differences between definitions of what a complicated concept citizenship is. That was the push into social justice work.
As many of you can relate, language was another eye-opening notion that never seemed to have a set definition or rules to play by. Her first language was Spanish. That came with a whole set of cultural cues that she knew at home but when she encountered English in the first grade, narratives changed. All of these constant interwoven contradictions shaped her and only continued to do so more when she arrived at college.
Fernanda attended Texas A&M University, where she obtained majors in International Studies and Sociology, with a minor in Spanish and Africana Studies. Studying at a predominantly white institution, she realized how many political voices were not recognized. This motivated her to become active through the academic setting and then branch out to the community. Fernanda cared about school issues but also gave her time to overlooked communities like the undocumented segment of that particular region.
She is deeply committed to the uplifting of all underprivileged people. More specifically, she seeks the liberation for all black and brown people the world over. Because Fernanda has lived in five different countries, she sees herself working in an intersectional environment that seeks to improve life on multiple fronts from education, better health accessibility, workers’ rights, to broader meaningful political participation.
Fernanda hopes to soon be accepted to a graduate program that upholds academic rigor and that deeply connects to human rights. For now, she is ready to devote her time learning the richness of our indigenous roots and exhort her energy to the cause.
Internship: October 2018 - Current
Hello, everyone! My name is Felicia Cisneros, and it is with great excitement that I announce my internship position with The Tonantzin Society this fall!
I’m a 27 year-old Xicana grad student at the University of Texas at Austin. I’m pursuing a Master’s in Global Policy Studies with a focus in Latin American development and cultural heritage policy, as well as a portfolio in Arts and Cultural Management. I received a Bachelor of Arts in Mexican American Studies (MAS) and English in 2013 from The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA).
I was raised in the Rio Grande Valley, close to the southmost border between Texas and Mexico. Though this has always kept me close to my Mexican roots, the MAS program at UTSA exposed me to the richness and value of culture, language, and art throughout the Americas, highlighting that of indigenous peoples both pre- and post-Conquest. A long-standing interest in history and art led me to fall in love with the world of precolonial architecture and antiquities; I then made it a point to visit archeological sites and museums in Peru, Colombia, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, and Mexico! However, I soon realized that despite their longevity, many of these cultural sites and items remain in peril of being lost, stolen, or destroyed.
Last summer I conducted on-site research on the shortcomings of cultural heritage policies in Guatemala and Belize. Gaps in both policy and infastructure have led to the looting of sacred and historical sites, the trafficking of antiquities, and, most notably, the shocking unauthorized destruction of the biggest pyramid at the Nohmul archeological site in Belize by contractors in May 2013 (followed closely in June by the destruction of another pyramid in Peru at the hands of property developers at El Paraíso).
This year, I mourned the devastating loss of the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Items lost to the fire included some of the oldest human remains found in the Americas, countless pieces of native craftsmanship, and, most tragically, recordings of languages no longer spoken by indigenous groups that have since disappeared. These are permanent, jarring losses.
During my time with The Tonantzin Society, I plan to examine cultural heritage policies throughout Latin America, bringing to light the struggles faced in the attempt to preserve and share precolonial art forms, as well as in making sense of issues of space, context, and ownership. I will answer questions such as how sites and museums like Nohmul and El Museo Nacional became in danger of desecration, why the preservation and the provenance (origin) of precolonial artifacts is important, and who has the right to own or curate them.
Over the next few months, I’ll be linking my blog here every week (as well as posting to our Twitter and Instagram!) to update you all on my research and hopefully build passion and excitement for these incredible art forms we cannot afford to lose. They are vital pieces of our collective cultural memory and identity, not simply relics to be tucked away or an aesthetic to be exploited.
Stay tuned for details on an upcoming event we are planning regarding these topics in Spring 2019!
Here’s a picture of me enjoying one of my favorite exhibits in Texas— the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Latin American Art at the San Antonio Museum of Art! Looking forward to sharing and engaging with all of you. 😁
Internship: August 2018 - May 2019