About the Mural of Ancestors

Why a Mural of Ancestors?

JASS Mural of Ancestors

More than 6000 years ago, many parts of the world were introduced to what is known today as Patriarchy. This system of social organization, which also corresponds to a paradigm, gradually expanded to all corners of our planet with disastrous consequences for humanity, living beings and the planet itself. One way of maintaining this paradigm/system is to hide and even erase the contributions women have made to our societies, but more importantly by disappearing, deleting or making invisible our transgressions as women, women who have opposed and continue opposing all forms of oppression that are made possible by the patriarchal paradigm having naturalized hierarchies among human beings.

Thanks to many activists and academics, the historical recovery of these important women has been achieved with the history of many of our ancestors to whom we owe much to. But this recovery is minimal compared to all that is left to be done. It’s urgent that we do not wait for others or future generations to take on this necessary recovery but we must begin the process ourselves, by naming women who have somehow influenced our struggles and our lives.

Participating in the JASS Mural of Ancestors is one of the many ways to make this historic recovery of our ancestors, teachers, mentors and other inspiring women possible. The first ancestors that were placed on this Mural were from JASS Mesoamerica’s first Alquimia workshop (formally known as the Mar de Cambios School), which was held in Panama in June 2009 - these ancestors were just the beginning of a long and sustained recovery we must assume so that we and all who come after, may have a shared history and, more importantly, one that is indelible, and always enriching.

Please note that the English Mural of Ancestors is currently being developed and will be available in early 2013. 

How is a Mural of Ancestors created?

There are at least two ways to do a mural:

  1. Contributing to JASS’ Virtual Mural: To participate in JASS’ virtual Mural of Ancestors, all you have to do it submit your ancestor using out virtual platform. It is important to read the following paragraphs to understand who should be included in the mural and why; we at JASS follow these parameters. Please don’t forget to include all the necessary information so that we can better understand why this particular woman should be part of the Great Wall of Ancestors. Once we receive your submitted ancestor, the Alquimia team will review the information and will contact you if further information is needed or to inform you when your ancestor will be included. Given the volume of submissions, please note that the Mural will be updated every two months.
  2. During a Training or Activity: Designate one of the walls of the room where a workshop or course will be held, so that each participant can hang an ancestor of their choice to the mural. The activity of hanging the ancestor on the wall should be part of the workshop because no matter the subject being covered, recovering the historical memory of our struggles always plays an important contribution to the subject. This activity can be done all at once or throughout the workshop, giving time each morning or later for one or more women to share their ancestors. Each participant will read to the rest of the group what they wrote about their ancestor and then put it on the mural. At the end of the workshop, you will have a nice mural with all of the ancestors, participants and facilitators. Once this Mural is complete and to ensure that their stories continue to live on, please feel free to share the individual ancestors with the JASS community by submitting them to our virtual Mural.

Who should be included in the Mural?

For this Wall, an ancestor is any woman, dead or alive, young or old, rich or poor, activist or not, who has inspired, supported, mentored or pushed us through our journey to the conviction that inequality based on gender, race, age, ability, status or social status, immigration, economic, etc., must be eradicated. Any woman who has pushed us towards the path of equality, justice and peace belongs on this mural. Any woman who has opened our eyes to Patriarchy and its numerous manifestations is our ancestor, women crossing the line.

That said, since this Mural is meant to recover the memory and contributions of women who have not been recognized by patriarchal history, we would like to feature women who have not been appreciated by patriarchy – for example, queens, saints or famous actresses and singers. Furthermore, we should refrain from including famous women authors, scientists, etc. and women leaders who are already recognized through current history, such as Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi, Marie Curie and many others. It’s okay to include famous women gurus if the reasons for which they inspire us are not well known or already recognized. For example, Sojourner Truth, a woman born a slave, is very famous in United States for her fight against slavery, but her participation in the feminist struggle of her time has been erased from official history - Sojourner Truth definitely belongs on the Mural of our Ancestors.

What gets placed on the Mural?

During a workshop or activity: On a sheet of paper or index card write the title: "Ancestor of (NAME OF PRESENTER)”, then under the title place the photo or image of the ancestor and below, add the biographical information with an explanation, of no more than a paragraph, of how she inspired you and why she should be our ancestor. Once complete, add sheet of paper (staple, tape, or pin) to the mural (can be a piece of hanging cloth, paper or a blank wall).

For the JASS virtual Mural: Using the same logic as above, submit your ancestor title, image, biographical information and description of how she inspired you and why she should be our ancestor to the JASS Mural of Ancestor Submit an Ancestor page (currently unavailable).

Why is this Mural so important?

JASS Mesoamerica’s virtual Mural of Ancestors is meant to create a virtual memorial of women who are missing and at times, been erased by patriarchy’s history so that future generations of women who cross the line and transform power won’t have to search through the mental, structural or economic rubble to find a little of their own history.

In addition, this Mural is here to remind us that women have been fighting for centuries for equality, justice, happiness, harmony and peace, and encourage us to feel proud to belong to a lineage of powerful women who, despite efforts by others to erase them from history, still inspire us.