Cultures of Politics/Politics of Cultures: Re-Visioning Latin American Social Movements

By Sonia E. Alvarez; Evelina Dagnino et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter Seven
Indigenous Movements as a Challenge to the Unified Social Movement Paradigm for Guatemala

KAY B. WARREN

Chantal Mouffe and Ernesto Laclau argue that the urgent political work for this historical moment is the quest for "radical and plural democracy." They advocate diverse routes for individuals to pressure democracies for wider social, economic, and environmental justice. In their view, this is a post-Marxist project. The dramatic collapse of state socialism and the apparent exhaustion of its appeal in much of the world painfully confirms the limits of ideologies that construct a political subject focused primarily on the politics of class conflict or on universalized revolutionary struggle.

My thanks go to Arturo Escobar, Sonia Alvarez, and Evelina Dagnino for the invitation to join their international research group on social movements. From the onset, I want to make clear that I alone assume sole responsibility for the final line of analysis in this essay. This analysis is based on research I have pursued on indigenous issues in Guatemala since 1970, on discussions with Pan-Mayanists about their movement since 1989, and on encounters with their critics over the same time period. More of my work on the Pan-Mayan movement can be found in Warren 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, forthcoming(a), and forthcoming(b), and in Indigenous Movements and Their Critics: Pan-Mayanism and Ethnic Resurgence in Guatemala (forthcoming[c]).

The essay has also been energized by generous feedback from Charles Hale, Judith Maxwell, June Nash, Diane Nelson, Abigail Adams, and Miguel Centeno; debates with Deborah Levenson-Estrada ( 1994; forthcoming); and stimulating seminars at the University of Michigan and Johns Hopkins University. Jeff Himpele introduced me to the concept of parallel middle classes and to comparative insights from Bolivia, which have proven very valuable in this analysis (see Himpele 1995).

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