Dr Thomas Rath awarded funding from UCL Knowledge Exchange

28 June 2024

Dr Thomas Rath, Associate Professor in Modern Latin America, awarded funding from UCL Knowledge Exchange for a project entitled "Digital Technologies and Atrocities: Promoting Truth and Accountability in Mexico."

sepia image of six men in army clothing

This project aims to use digital technologies to elucidate past atrocities in Mexico and promote accountability. 

Since summer 2023, Thomas Rath has worked with an international team of historians and journalists to conduct the first in-depth research on the Mexican army's killing of between c.80-300 indigenous farmers at Monte de Chila in the Sierra Norte de Puebla, Mexico. This event is one of - if not the - largest state massacre in Mexico’s contemporary history. Yet there are nearly no works on this atrocity by journalists, NGOs, or academics. To date, studies of Mexico’s ‘dirty war’ - a period of increased state repression from c. 1965-1990 - have focused on urban student dissidents and guerillas. Monte de Chila is therefore a powerful case with which to rethink this history, how it has been remembered, and how we produce knowledge about it. 

The NGO Article 19 is working with us to co-produce a web portal about this episode. It will present a historical narrative of the massacre, amplified by open access to some of the over 40 hours of interviews and archival documents that we have collected, with versions in Spanish, Totonac, Nahuatl and English. This funding supports an international workshop at UCL to deepen and broaden engagement with this resource among various academic and non-academic stakeholders (lawyers, NGOS, activists, journalists), share best practice, refine ideas for the web portal, and consider how future work on state violence and accountability can better address the experiences of marginalised indigenous communities.