Techno-Tamaladas webinar/dialogo focused on the traditional milpa as an Indigenous technology of life. How can knowledges of nixtamalization, the milpa, and maize cultures build and nourish resurgence in urban communities, transcend isolation, and reorient our technological imaginaries? How can lessons from previous epidemics, such as the AIDS crisis, help us prepare for mounting challenges ahead? With host Praba Pilar, featuring project collaborators Charlotte Sáenz and Ben Simmons. Hosted on Zoom by Pro Arts Gallery & Commons on Friday, October 20, 2020, with support from the Community Rapid Response Fund of Headlands Center for the Arts. In Part 1 of the webinar, Praba Pilar introduces the Techno-Tamaladas project, and Charlotte Maria Sáenz shares the concepts, practices and cosmologies of an integrated milpa. In Part 2 of the webinar, Ben Simmons shares lessons learned from the AIDS crisis, and Zoom participants dialogue and ask questions. This Zoom webinar was recorded and due to requests from certain participants, most of the participants are not shown in this documentation video.

The Techno-Tamaladas draw on thousands of years of practice & knowledge cultivating corn/maize across the Americas to sustain life. Recognizing the Indigenous technology of nixtamalization – the Nahuatl word for steeping and cooking maize in water with ash or slaked lime – and how it increases nutritional value and reduces mycotoxins – provides a springboard to reimagine technological futurity. More information on the Techno-Tamaladas is available at…​

Speaker Bios:

Charlotte Maria Sáenz seeks to dislodge dominant narratives, expand perspectives, and grow common sense with her human and non-human communities. Towards these ends she tends an urban milpa, makes tortillas, and researches Zapatista pedagogies of seed as a doctoral researcher at ECOSUR in Chiapas, Mexico. She also teaches Interdisciplinary studies in an alternative Bachelors Completion Program at CIIS in San Francisco. Over the past 25 years she’s worked in diverse media arts, cultural, and political education programs in refugee camps, schools, streets, and traveling programs.

Ben Simmons is a gay African-American video and media artist from Cambridge, Massachusetts. Ben is a long term HIV+ survivor, was trained in medical surgical nursing in a short stint with the Navy, and before retiring, worked at John George Psychiatric Hospital in San Leandro, as the night charge nurse, for ten years.

Praba Pilar is a diasporic Colombian artist disrupting the contemporary ‘Cult of the Techno-Logic’ through performances, digital and electronic installations, participatory workshops, and experimental public talks. The Techno-Tamaladas form part of Queercornu(c/t)opia – recent works with corn that queer the utopic, the planetary, entanglements, desire, and the ethics of care. These projects embrace temporary states: of utopias and cornucopias; of wonder; of dystopias, alienation and horror; of refusals, emergences, and possibilities. For more information, please visit

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