CAHSS Faculty Articles

Manatee Lagoon: Yesterday and Today

Publication Title

Journal of Video Ethnography

Publication Date

Spring 2016


Laguna Manati: Ayer y Hoy (Manatee Lagoon: Yesterday and Today) tells a story of change, loss, and perseverance in the words of the people whose story it is. For two years, an interdisciplinary group of sociologists, biologists, and anthropologists traveled several times, including two trips with undergraduate students, to a rural village in the state of Veracruz, Mexico. The village was surrounded by Laguna Manati (Manatee Lagoon) and the Olmec archaeological site, El Manati. The primary purpose was not to “make a film” — it was to interview elderly campesinos, rural farmers, and fishermen about their past experiences hunting the Antillean manatee in a place called Laguna Manati. The manatee are now extirpated in the lagoon, which is reportedly drier throughout much of the year than in recent memory. Species such as fish and turtles that were once common in the lagoon have been depleted. A combination of factors, most related to human activity, economics, and available technology, seem to have altered the lagoon ecosystem and the nearby wildlife. The lives of the campesinos have also been changed, as they describe in their own poignant voices. This film is both an ethnographic record for the villagers and their families and an exploration of how humans change, interact with, and persevere in their natural environments.





Find in your library