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The Political Uses of Maya Medicine

Civil Organizations in Chiapas and the Ventriloquism Effect

Pedro Pitarch

This article focuses on the internal operations of civil society organizations working among the indigenous population of Chiapas. The growth of non-governmental organizations in this area over the last few decades has reinforced the fabric of civil society. Yet at the same time, certain groups make uncivil use of civil society structures, preventing the effective representation of indigenous populations. Comparing three organizations of indigenous doctors, I examine the complex relations that arise between indigenous members and non-indigenous 'advisers'. In particular, I look to the ways that external advisers define indigenous interests and the concept of Indianness in pursuit of their own political agendas.

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Women’s Rights and Sovereignty/Autonomy

Negotiating Gender in Indigenous Justice Spaces

Shannon Speed, María Teresa Sierra, Lynn Stephen, Jessica Johnson and Heike Schaumberg

In recent years in both the United States and Latin America, indigenous peoples have taken increasing control over local justice, creating indigenous courts and asserting more autonomy in the administration of justice in their tribes, regions, or communities. New justice spaces, such as the Chickasaw District Courts in Oklahoma and the Zapatista Good Governance Councils in Chiapas, work to resolve conflict based largely on indigenous ‘customs and traditions.’ Many of the cases brought before these local legal bodies are domestic cases that directly involve issues of gender, women’s rights and culture. Yet the relationship between ‘indigenous traditions’ and women’s rights has been a fraught one. This forum article considers how these courts emerged in the context of neoliberalism and whether they provide new venues for indigenous women to pursue their rights and to challenge gendered social norms or practices that they find oppressive.

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Sabrina Melenotte

Since 1994, the Zapatista political autonomy project has been claiming that “another world is possible”. This experience has influenced many intellectuals of contemporary radical social movements who see in the indigenous organization a new political alter-native. I will first explore some of the current theories on Zapatism and the crossing of some of authors into anarchist thought. The second part of the article draws on an ethnography conducted in the municipality of Chenalhó, in the highlands of Chiapas, to emphasize some of the everyday practices inside the self-proclaimed “autonomous municipality” of Polhó. As opposed to irenic theories on Zapatism, this article describes a peculiar process of autonomy and brings out some contradictions between the political discourse and the day-to-day practices of the autonomous power, focusing on three specific points linked to economic and political constraints in a context of political violence: the economic dependency on humanitarian aid and the “bureaucratic habitus”; the new “autonomous” leadership it involved, between “good government” and “good management”; and the internal divisions due to the return of some displaced members and the exit of international aid.

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Militarized Democracies

The Neoliberal Mexican State and the Chiapas Uprising

Heidi Moksnes

The neoliberal state, this article argues, displays structural contradictions between the need to create economic stability and the demand to display democratic structures where the human rights of the citizens are respected. As the discourse of human rights is increasingly used also by marginalized groups, the apparent convergence in human rights objectives may be a dangerous illusion.

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Ruy Llera Blanes, Sverker Finnström, John Harald Sande Lie, Dieter Devos, Natalia De Marinis, Sergio González Varela and Nicolas Argenti

Dena Freeman, ed., Pentecostalism and Development: Churches, NGOs and Social Change in Africa Review by Ruy Llera Blanes

Nicolas Argenti and Katharina Schramm, eds., Remembering Violence: Anthropological Perspectives on Intergenerational Transmission Review by Sverker Finnström

Soumhya Venkatesan and Thomas Yarrow, eds., Differentiating Development: Beyond an Anthropology of Critique Review by Jon Harald Sande Lie

Michael Jindra and Joël Noret, eds., Funerals in Africa: Explorations of a Social Phenomenon Review by Dieter Devos

Heidi Moksnes, Maya Exodus: Indigenous Struggle for Citizenship in Chiapas Review by Natalia De Marinis

Diana Paton and Maarit Forde, eds., Obeah and Other Powers: The Politics of Caribbean Religion and Healing Review by Sergio González Varela

Charles Stewart, Dreaming and Historical Consciousness in Island Greece Review by Nicolas Argenti