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The 2020 paradox

A multisystem crisis in search of a comprehensive response

Aleida Azamar Alonso and Carmen Maganda Ramírez

In most of the world, we follow a production model based on economic premises from the middle of the nineteenth century, including processes of accumulation, monopolization, and privatization of a territory’s common goods and of life itself, in order to guarantee the reproduction of capital. International regulations and laws that protect nature are mostly limited to reaction and repair of environmental damages caused by anthropocentric activities in the most vulnerable and impoverished nations in the world but do not o􀄞 en question the damage to populations, especially indigenous peoples and their ancestral territories. Latin America exemplifies this, given that the region has experienced a series of political, economic, environmental, and now health crises as it has become the epicenter of the current COVID-19 pandemic (Pan American Health Organization, PAHO, 2021).

Open access

Harlan Koff and Carmen Maganda

The American continents have become one of the epicenters of the COVID-19 pandemic. Statistically, it is the world region which has been impacted the most by the pandemic. By August 3, 2021, over two million people have been confirmed to have died from COVID-19, which represents roughly half of the total number of confirmed global deaths from the disease (Statista, 2021). Moreover, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) estimates that the economies of this region will contract by 5.3% in 2021, which will plunge almost 30 million inhabitants of this world region into poverty (ECLAC, 2021).

Open access

The antimonies of the PAH (Platform of Mortgage Victims) in Spain

Between solidarity and political effectiveness

Monique Nuijten and Pieter de Vries

In the Platform of Mortgage Victims (PAH) the common view exists that all activists are equal, that there are no leaders, and that there is no division of labor between grassroots activists and activist-politicians. We show that the trope of horizontalism (the nonexistence of hierarchy within the platform) in effect hides the existence of an unacknowledged leadership structure and of electoral aspirations. We argue that the tensions between grassroots activists and emerging activist-politicians stand for a fundamental divide that renders possible a true change in the state of the situation. This article draws on the work of Alain Badiou and Jodi Dean to argue that the PAH contributed to the 15M movement as a truth event by staging performances of egalitarianism and cultivating solidarity in a disciplined way.

Open access

Geoffrey Aung

Dua, Jatin. 2019. Captured at sea: Piracy and protection in the Indian Ocean. Oakland, CA: University of California Press.

Appel, Hannah. 2019. The licit life of capitalism. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Sopranzetti, Claudio. 2018. Owners of the map: Motorcycle taxi drivers, mobility, and politics in Bangkok. Oakland, CA: University of California Press.

Open access

Carlos A. Rodríguez Wallenius

English Abstract: This article analyzes the extractivist and dispossession modalities in the Mexican neodevelopmental proposal to face the multiple crises accentuated by the COVID-19 pandemic. With the qualitative narrative method applied to social processes, four infrastructure and extractivist megaprojects are analyzed. Neodevelopmental policies of the current government insist on carrying out works as a strategy to create jobs, reactivate the economy, and promote well-being, especially for the southeast region with high rates of socioeconomic inequality. The findings point to an increase in investment and job creation and a rejection by various communities and organizations that consider that their ways of life are being threatened by the efforts of the neodevelopmental government to build megaprojects before and during the pandemic.

Spanish Abstract: Este artículo analiza las modalidades extractivistas y de despojo en la propuesta neodesarrollista mexicana para enfrentar las crisis múltiples acentuadas por la pandemia de la COVID-19. Con el método cualitativo narrativo aplicado a procesos sociales, se analizan cuatro megaproyectos de infraestructura y extractivistas. Las políticas neodesarrollistas del gobierno actual insisten en realizar obras como una estrategia para crear empleos, reactivar la economía y fomentar el bienestar, especialmente para la región sureste con altos índices de desigualdad socioeconómica. Los hallazgos señalan un incremento en la inversión y en la generación de empleos pero también un rechazo de varias comunidades y organizaciones que consideran que sus formas de vida están siendo amenazadas frente a los esfuerzos del gobierno neodesarrollista por construir megaproyectos antes y durante la pandemia.

French Abstract: Cet article analyse les modalités extractivistes et de dépossession incluses dans la proposition néo-développementaliste mexicaine afin de faire face aux crises multiples accentuées par la pandémie de Covid-19. Avec la méthode narrative qualitative appliquée aux processus sociaux, quatre mégaprojets d’infrastructures et d’extraction sont analysés. Les politiques néo-développementalistes du gouvernement actuel insistent sur la réalisation de travaux comme stratégie pour créer des emplois, réactiver l’économie et promouvoir le bien-être, en particulier pour la région du sud-est qui connaît des taux élevés d’inégalités socio-économiques. Les résultats indiquent une augmentation des investissements et de la création d’emplois, mais aussi un rejet de la part de diverses communautés et organisations qui considèrent que leurs modes de vie sont menacés par les efforts du gouvernement néo-développementaliste pour construire des mégaprojets avant et pendant la pandémie.

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Dumpster Diving for a Better World

Explaining Unconventional Protest and Public Support for Actions against Food Waste

Benedikt Jahnke and Ulf Liebe

Food waste is a major challenge in affluent societies around the globe. Based on theories of protest and a mixed methods design combining qualitative, experimental, and survey research, we study the motives for, frequency of, and public support for dumpster diving in Germany. We find that dumpster diving as an unconventional daily protest action is related to more general protest against capitalist societies. It is motivated by both altruistic and egoistic concerns. The perceived legitimacy of violence and self-identity explain the frequency of dumpster diving. A factorial survey experiment with activists and the general public reveals strong similarities between the views of activists and those of other citizens in strong support of dumpster diving. This study demonstrates the usefulness of combining different empirical methods to study food activism.

Open access

Denise Soares

English abstract: The article approaches community water management in the rural town of El Mirador, Puebla, Mexico, from the political ecology perspective. To answer the question of how community water committees face the challenges of water management at the local level, we combine quantitative and qualitative methodologies. The results indicate that community households face lack of access to water, and the community committee manages the water from normative, technical, ecological and symbolic spheres, without having technical or financial support from the municipality, acting autonomously. We conclude that the norms established for the management of the resource of common use are consensual, which has fostered both sustainability in the use of water and the strengthening of community ties.

Spanish abstract: Este artículo aborda la gestión comunitaria del agua en la localidad rural El Mirador, Puebla, México, desde la perspectiva de la ecología política. Para contestar la pregunta: ¿cómo los comités comunitarios enfrentan los retos de la gestión del agua a nivel local? combinamos metodología cuantitativa y cualitativa, dado que una permite generalizar y otra profundizar relaciones. Los resultados indican que los hogares de la comunidad enfrentan la carencia de acceso al agua y el comité comunitario gestiona el líquido desde ámbitos normativos, técnicos, ecológicos y simbólicos, sin contar con el apoyo del municipio. Concluimos que las normas establecidas para el manejo del recurso de uso común son consensuadas, lo cual ha propiciado tanto sostenibilidad en el uso del agua como el fortalecimiento de lazos comunitarios.

French abstract: Cet article évoque la gestion de l’eau dans la communauté rurale d’El Mirador, au Mexique, abordée dans une perspective d’écologie politique. Il répond à la question suivante : comment les comités communautaires font-ils face aux défi s locaux de la gestion de l’eau? Nous combinons les méthodologies quantitative et qualitative, l’une nous permettant de généraliser et l’autre, d’approfondir les relations. Les résultats indiquent que les familles assument le défaut d’accès à l’eau et que le comité communautaire gère les aspects normatifs, techniques, écologiques et symboliques, sans soutien de la municipalité. Nous concluons que les normes établies autour de la gestion de l’eau sont consensuelles, ce qui a favorisé la durabilité dans l’utilisation de l’eau et le renforcement des liens communautaires.

Open access

Exemplifying political ideas

Russian revolutionary circles before 1917

Caroline Humphrey

Contradictions lie at the heart of revolutionary groups operating in underground conditions: how can the trust and secrecy of the circle be combined with spreading the message to far-flung masses? Can the ideals for the future society be manifested in the way the revolutionaries are themselves organized? This paper examines the disputes on these questions that raged among Russian radicals before 1917, which are important because of their subsequent global influence. It analyzes the dynamical changes in the forms taken by certain major revolutionary circles, and argues that the differentiated social forms, which morphed via crucial decisions from their origin in egalitarian multi-voiced circles, stemmed from the internal debate that was essential to the circle and was to a great extent an outcome of the philosophical and revolutionary ideas espoused.

Open access

F*ck the Police!

Antiblack statecraft, the myth of cops’ fragility, and the fierce urgency of an insurgent anthropology of policing

Jaime A. Alves

On the morning of 6 May 2021, the military police invaded the favela of Jacarezinho, one of Rio de Janeiro’s slums, and killed 28 people during a military operation tellingly named Operation Exceptis. Photos of dead bodies in the alleys of the favela and denouncements of extrajudicial executions of individuals who had already surrendered circulated widely on the internet. Jacarezinho adds to a troubling record of police killings that includes and goes far beyond the 1992 Massacre of Carandiru, when 111 prisoners were slaughtered by São Paulo’s police during a prison riot, and the equally infamous 2006 Crimes of May, when at least six hundred civilians were killed within the span of one week (Mães de Maio 2019). While human rights organizations denounced the Jacarezinho massacre for what it was, the police argued that “the only execution that took place was that of the police, unfortunately. The other deaths that happened were those of traffickers who attacked the lives of policemen and were neutralized” (Betim 2021). On a social media network, President Jair Bolsonaro praised “all the warriors who risk their lives in the daily mission to protect the good people,” and lamented that instead of honoring the life of the officer killed during the operation, human rights activists were treating “criminals who steal, kill, and destroy families” (Veja 2021) as innocent victims.

Open access

Charlotte Al-Khalili

Through an ethnographic account of Syrian halaqas (Sunni religious circles) from the 1980s until the 2011 Syrian revolution, this article argues that halaqas have a revolutionary potential. Th e analysis demonstrates that Syrian religious circles are spaces of self-transformation that have heterotopic qualities. The Darayya halaqa studied here is a space where present and future are collapsed: a space in which future revolutionary selves and societies are already enacted. This temporal collapse is thus simultaneously a scalar one, for through the emergence of a relational or unbounded subject, a revolutionary project is being performed. This project is, moreover, without a preexisting program that its members seek to implement in a distant future; it is rather a revolutionary project that is perpetually in the making through discussions and actions happening within it.