“That’s why Oaxaca is so special. People here are sovereign over their lives because they own their property. They own their fields. They own their forests. They own their waters.”

In This Episode
Jessie Mordine Young speaks with Alejandro de Avila Blomberg, the founding director of the Ethnobotanical Garden and curator at the Oaxaca Textile Museum in Oaxaca, Mexico. They discuss his career in anthropologyie, the history of cochineal, and the evolution of biodiversity in the region.

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Download transcript here.

Alejandro de Avila Blomberg’s family roots lie in Oaxaca, San Luis Potosí, and Finland. He was born and grew up in Mexico City, where he attended the German school. He received a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and physiological psychology from Tulane University in New Orleans and later earned a master’s degree in psychobiology and a PhD in anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley. Avila Blomberg has held teaching and research positions at three academic institutions in Mexico, and he established the first Mexican office of the World Wildlife Fund. He is the founding director of the Oaxaca Ethnobotanical Garden, and the curator, advisor, and research coordinator at the Oaxaca Textile Museum. His interest in plants and Mesoamerican cultures goes back to a childhood spent near Chapultepec, a magnificent park since pre-Columbian times that houses the National Museum of Anthropology. As a teenager, Avila Blomberg did an apprenticeship at a cotton weaving workshop in Oaxaca.

Jessie Mordine Young
is a Brooklyn-based artist who researches, writes about, curates, makes, and teaches textile art. She earned her MA from Bard Graduate Center in 2021. She works as an adjunct professor in the MFA Textiles Program and the School of Constructed Environments at the Parsons School of Design in New York City.