For her St. Lawrence University Fellows summer research project Emily Sheltry investigated the ways in which the image of Emiliano Zapata has changed from Zapata’s initial creation, and the ways that the image has been applied to the Zapatista movement. Evelyn Jennings, Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Advising Programs, was her advisor for the fellowship. Emily is working with Eric Williams-Bergen, Director of Digital Initiatives, to create a digital platform to present the results of her research.
In 1911, Emiliano Zapata and his peasant followers set out to claim regional autonomy for the agrarian state of Morelos in Southern Mexico, and to end the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz. On the first day of 1994, the neo-Zapatista movement, already a decade in the making, declared war on the Mexican Government and neoliberalism, invoking the name and image of Emiliano Zapata, hoping to claim autonomy for the southeastern state of Chiapas. The Zapata of the neo-Zapatista movement is very different from the image that Zapata created for himself during the Mexican revolution. Zapata, and his neo-Zapatista counterpart Subcomandante Marcos (now possibly Subcomandante Galeano), used the image of Zapata in many different ways, but their goals and provocations often overlapped.