Zapata Lives! Histories and Cultural Politics in Southern Mexico

Zapata Lives! Histories and Cultural Politics in Southern Mexico

Zapata Lives! Histories and Cultural Politics in Southern Mexico

Zapata Lives! Histories and Cultural Politics in Southern Mexico

Synopsis

"Zapata Lives! is the first scholarly study to examine contemporary Mexican Zapatismo comparatively, with an eye to regionally varying histories of peasant and indigenous relations to the national state. Analyzing the mosaic of experiences of agrarian reform, in the heartland of the Zapatista rebellion in eastern Chiapas and in central Oaxaca, Stephen clarifies how Zapata arose, and lives on, as a powerful symbol for the equity and social justice that men and women of Mexico's rural south demand of their government.--George Collier, author of "Basta! Land and the Zapatista Rebellion in Chiapas

Lynn Stephen's new book on Zapatismo is her best work to date and will win her great acclaim. It is a fascinating and highly accessible study of the interplay of state ideology, political economy, and local responses in Oaxaca and Chiapas, Mexico. Many scholars and students have been waiting for a richer contextualization of the Zapatista movement, and Stephen offers very effective tactics to frame such astudy.--Kay Warren, author of "Indigenous Movements and Their Critics

"Zapata Lives! is a testimony to the struggles and tentative hopes of indigenous populations in Mexico. It is also a testimony to the remarkable synergy that emerges from conjoining the ethnographic encounter with political events in their contested historical contexts. Articulate and compassionate herself, Stephen introduces her informants as the most articulate exponents of their own views and urges us to share their passions and perplexities. In short, this is an academically rich work that also engages the sensitivities and imagination of the reader.--Michael Herzfeld, author of "Cultural Intimacy

Ethnographic inmethod and encyclopedic in scope, this morally engaged book is indispensable to understanding historic transformations occurring in contemporary Mexico. Through comparative fieldwork in Chiapas and Oaxaca, Stephen reveals local i

Excerpt

As the year 1993 drew to a close, high-ranking members of Mexico's government prepared to celebrate the initiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on 1 January 1994. Approval of this agreement by the U. S. Congress in fall 1993 closed years of preparation and bargaining between the two countries. For those in the upper echelons of Mexico's government, those in the elite tiers of the financial service and banking center, and the twenty-four new billionaires who had prospered during the term of Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, NAFTA appeared to offer a new beginning, new hope, and a new national image for Mexico as a player in the global economy. The buzzwords of NAFTA—privatization, investment, individual opportunity, economic growth, international markets, global capital, and increased production—could be the basis for a new nationalism that would unify all Mexicans as they assumed their rightful place at the table with “first world” countries. For them, NAFTA would help Mexico to be recognized as a modern nation.

Far away from Mexico City, in the last days of 1993, another group was also preparing for 1 January. Throughout the highlands and in the Lacandon jungle of eastern Chiapas, thousands of indigenous soldiers, militia members, and community base members of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) were assembling and preparing to carry out coordinated attacks on five municipal seats in the state of Chiapas (see map 3). These people were not getting ready to celebrate NAFTA.

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