I first met Monique at the Colegio de Michoacán, when she was doing fieldwork in Jalisco for her doctoral thesis. We shared interests in both Mexican land reform communities and political anthropology generally and continued to exchange ideas back in Europe. I felt privileged to be invited to be one of the examiners of her thesis in Wageningen, which was awarded a far-from-routine cum laude distinction. I reported to the committee that I judged her work equally outstanding for its depth of ethnographic enquiry and for its theoretical contributions. It reached a much wider audience than specialists on Mexico after being condensed into her book Power, Community, and the State. Here, however, I want to focus on some of Monique's later research, on the urban periphery of Recife, Brazil. By a happy coincidence, our mutual interests converged again in Brazil, where I was working on the urban periphery of Salvador, Bahia, in collaboration with Dr. Maria Gabriela Hita of the Federal University of Bahia; but it is not because of professional links or the deep personal affection that Monique inspired in all her friends that I want to discuss her Recife studies. It is because they confirm that she remains a “presence that does not end,” the wonderful title chosen for the online event paying homage to all her contributions that the Colegio de Michoacán organized in March 2021. Monique's research is highly relevant to the current conjuncture in Brazil, shaped by the 2016 “parliamentary” coup and subsequent election as president of Jair Bolsonaro, whose regime is now regularly accused of being genocidal as well as ecocidal. Since Bolsonaro's popularity is waning and the Supreme Court has drawn a line under the “lawfare” that blocked ex-president Lula of the Workers’ Party (PT) from standing against him in the 2018 election, the return of a more civilized government under Lula's leadership now seems a possibility. Yet for that very reason, Monique's critical analysis of the PT in power in Recife offers us vital lessons about the limitations such a government would need to transcend to eliminate the enduring structural foundations of social injustice.
A tribute to Monique Nuijten
Ananthakrishnan Aiyer, Janis Bailey, Sarah Baker, Gerry Bloustien, Richard Daly, John Gledhill, Bruce Kapferer, Diane Losche, Di McAtee, Barry Morris, Val Napoleon, Sarah Pink, Jane Schneider, Peter Schneider, Cris Shore, and Benjamith R. Smith
Notes on Contributors
Ibrahim G. Aoude, Sandra Bamford, Mark T. Berger, Doug Dalton, Allen Feldman, Jonathan Friedman, John Gledhill, Richard Handler, Keith Hart, Michael Humphrey, Dan Jorgensen, Bruce Kapferer, Clive Kessler, Leif Manger, David A. B. Murray, Joel Robbins, Michael Rowlands, Marshall Sahlins, Elizabeth Stassinos, Marilyn Strathern, Karen Sykes, and Souchou Yao
Notes on contributors