Las Am?ricas

The Brotherhood of the Neighborhood


Somewhere among the millions upon millions of lights that seem to stretch out forever as you fly into Mexico City at night is Colonia Tulpetlac. To the untrained eye, it is one of countless makeshift settlements that spring up on the outskirts of cities large and small throughout Latin America. To Austin photographer Bill Kennedy, it is a complex web of families and neighbors making their way through various stages of transition from being immigrants from Mexico’s impoverished countryside to third-generation residents of La Capital. Kennedy, who teaches photography at St. Edward’s University, lived in Brownsville for several years, but confesses that the interior of Mexico was a mystery to him until he began photographing in Tulpetlac. His work there is part of an ongoing project documenting the founding of a new mendicant order named after Juan Diego, the Catholic Church’s newest saint. The order, founded by a former St. Edwards professor of religious studies, is based in Colonia Tulpetlac. “These people are the fuel for the machinery that is Mexico City,” Kennedy says of the families who live there. “You see them streaming in and out of the city every day as they go back and forth to work…Every time I’ve reached a point where I think I’ve ‘got’ the colonia,” he says, “something will happen that will redefine my definition of neighborhood.”