New digital exhibition

22nd May 2024

Join us on this journey throughout the Yaqui River to learn about the connections between culture and design in the Yaqui communities on both sides of the present-day US/Mexico border.

How can design perpetuate one’s ability to practice culture, especially when distanced from the environment that influenced one’s identity?

Species of the River is the result of a collaborative project with Yaqui architect Selina Martinez which examines questions about territorial identity, dispossession, community memory and storytelling.

The Yaqui people (or Yoeme), are originally from Sonora, Mexico and their identities are explicitly in relation to the territorial homelands along the Rio Yaqui which has historically supported a dynamic ecosystem near the bottom of the Sonoran Desert biome. They have resisted since the Spanish colonisation, throughout colonial Mexico and the development of the Mexican state that started in the 19th century.

Currently, Yaqui people live in the original territory and Arizona, United States, as many families migrated throughout history. For those settled far away from this environment, preserving traditions and the relationship between species has become a challenge, where adapting through design has become a key aspect of expressing Yaqui identities.

Digitally situated on the Yaqui River, 3D scanned by Martinez in the summer of 2022, Species of the River is a journey along the riverside where essential elements of Yaqui storytelling come into place to unveil past, present and future of these tribes. The digital display is premised on multimedia storytelling, including 3D models of collections and spaces, historical and contemporary audio recordings, photography and illustration.

Species of the River exhibition is the result of fieldwork research in Sonora, Mexico and Arizona in the United States and collection research at the British Museum and other UK institutions, such as the Pitt Rivers Museum and the British Library. The Yaqui collection in the British Museum was mostly acquired in the mid-19th century and entails a set of drinking bowls made from gourds and a Pascola mask, both commonly used in traditional ceremonies among Yaqui communities in Mexico and the United States.

For more information about this SDCELAR collaborative project visit Species of the River: Yaqui (Yoeme) communities in Mexico and the United States.

Click on the image to access the experience


Publications related to women’s and maternal health with Wixárika communities by the author of this exhibition


Gamlin, Jennie B. (2013)
Shame as a barrier to health seeking among indigenous Huichol migrant labourers: An interpretive approach of the “violence continuum” and “authoritative knowledge”
Social Science and Medicine 97 75-81

Gamlin, Jennie B. (2023)
Wixárika Practices of Medical Syncretism: An Ontological Proposal for Health in the Anthropocene
Medical Anthropology Theory 10 (2) 1-26

Gamlin, Jennie B. (2020)
“You see, we women, we can’t talk, we can’t have an opinion…”. The coloniality of gender and childbirth practices in Indigenous Wixárika families
Social Science and Medicine 252, 112912

Jennie Gamlin and David Osrin (2020)
Preventable infant deaths, lone births and lack of registration in Mexican indigenous communities: health care services and the afterlife of colonialism
Ethnicity and Health 25 (7)

Jennie Gamlin and Seth Holmes (2018)
Preventable perinatal deaths in indigenous Wixárika communities: an ethnographic study of pregnancy, childbirth and structural violence BMC
Pregnancy and Childbirth 18 (Article number 243) 2018

Gamlin, Jennie B. and Sarah J Hawkes (2015)
Pregnancy and birth in an Indigenous Huichol community: from structural violence to structural policy responses
Culture, health and sexuality 17 (1)