The milpa was the Aztec technique of agriculture common in Central America based on collaboration, entanglement , diversity and concatenation between different species (critters, plants, and human social groups). It stands for sustainability providing food and multiple harvests throughout the year without degrading the soil as opposed to extractionist and capitalist colonial forms of mono-cultural plantations. The milpa is an open form that consists on a small scale model, a parcel of land, with a mix entangled crops growing (re)inventingforms of collaboration by sharing and accommodating resources in the same space (for example beans and corn establish a reciprocal relation, the corn enables the beans to grow along providing vertical structure and the beans help by holding nitrogen in the soil when it’s leaves fall to the ground).
The milpa is an open form as it allows new and diverse species to join the entanglement and create further interrelations. In the milpa one thing connects with many others. One on/for/ along/with/towards another in an ongoing process.
Following these prepositional forms of relation, making milpa as (art) practice consists of enacting, translating, thinking-with and along the milpa and its driving principles (of collaboration, diversity, sustainability, concatenation, scale) towards inventing collective practices, forms of radical pedagogy and micropolitics. Making milpa is an ongoing effort towards exploring ways of inhabiting spaces (otherwise) and forms of be-longing. Creating learning environments based on forms of collaboration, sharing resources and non-hegemonic forms of knowing, unfolding from conviviality, diversity/vitality, care/curiosity, and porosity.
Making milpa is nomadic; moving between grounds and contexts willing to host its activity, concatenating processes, and (ex)changing methods and practices between localea. As a network it seeks to build long-term relations towards social and ecological justice.
Mexican milpa. Photo by Iván Juárez