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In memoriam Raquel Padilla Ramos (1967 – 2019)


Raquel Padilla Ramos.jpg



The Department for Anthropology of the Americas sadly bemoans the sudden and violent death of Dr. Raquel Padilla Ramos, who passed away on 7th of November 2019 due to femicide.

Raquel was a brilliant and committed ethnohistorian at the National Institute of History and Anthropology (INAH) in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. She dedicated almost her whole academic life to the history of indigenous people in Northwest Mexico and especially to the Río Yaqui people in Sonora. This endeavor started with her Licentiatura thesis at the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán on the topic Yucatán, fin del sueño yaqui. El tráfico de los yaquis y el otro triunvirato, thematizing the expulsion, deportation, forced labor and genocide of Río Yaqui people at the turn of the century (published in 1996). With great diligence and analytical understanding, she reconstructed political-economic networks of the Porfirian era, relating politicians of Sonora via Mexico-City with Yucatan, that shamelessly used humans to enrich themselves.

She continued her ethnohistoric studies by adding ethnographic fieldwork. For her Ph.D. Thesis at the University of Hamburg in Mesoamerican studies, she documented by camera biographic memories of Yaqui tribe’s members, talking about war and deportation at the beginning of the 20th century (Los partes fragmentados. Narrativas de la guerra y la deportación yaquis, finished in 2009 and published online).

When I got to know her in 2010 and 2011, she already worked at the National Institute of History and Anthropology (INAH) in Hermosillo (Sonora). We met in the old prison building where the offices of the INAH and the Museo Regional de Sonora are residing. While talking about current and past events in the history of the Yaqui tribe, she easily shared her passion for so many themes which by then were still unexplored and known too little. And that is what she did with constant passion. In sum, she published 15 books – monographs and edited volumes – , and about 55 articles; results from her individual research and collaborative research projects with colleagues from the Colegio de Sonora and other institutions. One can say that within her extensive oeuvre major themes are: 19th and 20th century history of indigenous people of the Northwest, highlighting the female side of history and the missionary history of the region.

Besides her historical studies, she took actively part in the ongoing struggles of the Río Yaqui pueblos on land and water rights and raised her voice in many different fora in order to remind of past injuries to human rights and the marginalization of indigenous groups until today. As historian she was also asked for her expert opinion in those ongoing conflicts between Río Yaqui pueblos, state institutions and private interest groups, which brought her not only positive responses by conflict parties. However, being aware of those many pitfalls of being ‘in between’ different interest groups, she contributed with a critically reflected position on the role of the historian.

Raquel Padilla Ramos will be missed as research colleague and teacher. But most of all, she will by missed by her children, her family and her friends. It is to them that we offer our sincere condolences.

Dr. Antje Gunsenheimer

on behalf of the Dep. for Anthropology of the Americas, University of Bonn