The Mexican East Harlem Digital Archive (MEHDA) is an initiative by Hector Agredano, PhD student at the CUNY Graduate Center. The project of the MEHDA comes out of the graduate course “Reassessing Inequality & Reimagining the 21st Century: East Harlem Focus.” In this participatory open online course, taught by Wendy Luttrell and Caitlin Cahill, we were asked to explore the potential of digital technologies to conduct community centered scholarship. Thus, the MEHDA is an attempt to tap into the potential of digital technologies to create an online presence of Mexicans in East Harlem.
The idea of a digital archive for the Mexican communities of East Harlem was inspired by the history of the Centro Archives of the Puerto Rican Diaspora. The goal of the MEHDA is to establish the basic infrastructures of a digital archive and to explore the ways in which people of Mexican ancestry express their ethnic or national identity culturally, intellectually and in everyday practice.
After gathering visual, sound and oral historical data throughout the spring of 2013 the first exhibit of the MEHDA, titled “Finding Mexican East Harlem,” has been launched as a final project for the end of the Spring 2013 semester. We hope that this exhibit is the first of many to come.
We invite you to view and listen to the first exhibit “Finding Mexican East Harlem” as well as an accompanying essay which explores immigration into East Harlem and the formation of Mexican identity or “Mexicanidad” in El Barrio. You are also invited to join the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #Mexicanidad and to contribute to a growing visual archive on Flickr by using the tag Mexicanidad on your images and photographs.
Many people made this project possible. First I would like to thank Caitlin Cahill and Wendy Lutrell for organizing the participatory open online course “Reassessing Inequality & Reimagining the 21st Century: East Harlem Focus.” I would also like to thank Edwin Mayorga, Jen Jack Gieseking and Wilneida Negrón for their help and support with this website. I would also like to thank my community partners at the Café Ollin and especially Leticia Pérez for her time and our conversations. Finally, I would like to thank my classmates for their ideas, support, and inspiration.