The thesis, or should I say dissertation, essentially begins with an acknowledgment section. There is the abstract, and then the acknowledgments, then the table of contents, then the thesis itself. A future blog post will be about an alternative acknowledgment section and will say everything I wanted to say but felt like it wouldn’t be appropriate (example: gracias por los juegos de bingo/thanks for the Bingo – to my friend C, or thanks for letting me fb chat with you about the same thing every day while I was in Mexico – A). In spite of these egregious oversights, I did include some truthful comments that were simply masked in formal language. Special thanks to RG and PF, because “without their friendship and hospitality, I would have been exposed to far fewer cultural and academic spaces,” which really meant thanks for the trips that involved failed attempts to go to the Monsiváis museum, or the failed attempt to see altares for the Día de muertos, among other things. Most of the acknowledgements are in fact thanks to my family and friends. Even though these relationships have sometimes been overtaken by my relationship with my thesis, the family and friends remain.
Yesterday, I reviewed the typos in what had effectively become the primary relationship in my life, and noticed how often I mention the conflict between Church and State in Mexico was manifested in conflicts over education. These conflicts result in disagreements and gruesome murders in at least two of the stories I deal with. As I was revising, I was listening to a podcast (Snap Judgment, NPR) that was talking about residential schools in Canada, and the conflict between the Canadian government and Inuit and First Nations culture that took place through education, largely via Churches. The Canadian government was so invested in making all Canadians a certain way, and using education to do so, that it interfered with the lives of religious minorities – such as Doukhobors and Mennonites. Indeed, in the 1920s, 30s and 40s, some Canadian Mennonites immigrated to Mexico to gain autonomy over education, as well as their broader cultural, religious and linguistic practices.
When I think of these Mennonites, my education, my thesis and acknowledgements, I must acknowledge that there is something missing from that first page of my thesis. My paternal grandmother who refused to let my mom name me after her. One of my few memories of going to the farm as a kid was pulling out a paper from one of the drawers under the kitchen table and finding it full of fractions. My grandma, never having had the opportunity to complete a high level of formal education, would do fractions for fun. So yesterday, in an effort to tie up the disparate threads of past, present and thesis, I wore a headscarf (as a scarf) that my grandma had embroidered that matched the blazer and dress I bought at a thrift store.