“Aquí no pasa nada” : Migration and Nostalgia on YouTube
Alhelí Harvey
Monterrey, Nuevo León

Llegando a Monterrey Nuevo Leon (Central de Autobuses) en Omnibus de Mexico Plus 2


Other videos in the series:

Los Aldamas, Nuevo León

Anáhuac, Nuevo León

Linares, Nuevo León

China, Nuevo León

Lampazos de Naranjo, Nuevo León

Ciénga de Flores, Nuevo León

General Bravo, Nuevo León

Monterrey, Nuevo León


What are these?

They’re YouTube videos made by people from Nuevo León that have left their hometowns. At best, our knowledge of where they are now is speculative. All we know for sure is that they’ve left their hometowns -- this is a fact revealed in explicitly video descriptions and content or implicitly through the comments section. There exist at least 29,700 youtube videos under the search terms “mi pueblo, nuevo leon mexico.” The municipality of Anáhuac, for example, has a population that was officially recorded in 2010 as 18,480. However, the views on the video reflect a viewership wider than the population itself. From the videos collected, it seems that this kind of relationship is common if not obvious: the average number of views on a pueblo video (in some cases less than a year old) is 15,000. 

The amatuer home-made youtube videos created by migrants from Nuevo León force us to consider how thinking about the border as a political line or contested geographic area is itself another border. German emigree turned modernist Mexican architect Mathias Goeritz’ spoke of  “emotional architecture.” Here, in a border state, there are thousands of users uploading videos laden with it. The sheer numbers of videos speak to a level of digital monumentality; the content of a “spiritual” effect. As a form of commentary, commemoration, and contemplation on their pueblos, these videos are both artifacts of the built environment, nostalgic ephemera, and border doings/undoings via digital format.

They’re small homes, pieced together with slide-show and favorite tracks: a brick and mortar of feeling.  What can these videos tell us about the quotidian processes of nostalgia and space making? What do they reveal about a landscape that is often torn by states, industry, migration?  How might we read these practices as political evaluations of life in flux?  If the horizon line is in a certain key, with three stanzas that influence the spatial logic of the people from these borderlands, the videos demonstrate that the landscape built as much by a sonic field as a geographic one.