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.
Views from its day-to-day praxis
Autobiography, Kinship, and Alterity in Native Amazonia
Vanessa Elisa Grotti and Marc Brightman
Shamanic knowledge is based on an ambiguous commensality with invisible others. As a result, shamans oscillate constantly between spheres of intimacy, both visible and invisible. A place of power and transformation, the spirit world is rarely described by native interlocutors in an objective, detached way; rather, they depict it in terms of events and experiences. Instead of examining the formal qualities of accounts of the spirit world through analyses of ritual performance and shamanic quests, we focus on life histories as autobiographical accounts in order to explore what they reveal about the relationship between personal history (and indigenous historicity) and the spirit world. We introduce the term ‘double reflexivity’ to refer to processes by which narratives about the self are produced through relationships with alterity.
The 2011 Israeli protest for social justice marked a change in the responses of Israeli citizens to political and social matters. The ways in which art and social change intersected during the protest, and the emer- gence of art collectives following the events, call for an understanding of the relation between art and politics in Israel. This article suggests an alternative reading of socially engaged art in Israel. To this end, I use Félix Guattari’s notion of ‘transversality’ and Jacques Rancière’s theory on the ‘aesthetic regime’ to highlight signi cant periods where art and politics have intersected in ways that have challenged Israeli art historiography, often neutralizing the political within an artwork. By using a theoreti- cal framework that emphasizes notions of hybridity and the blurring of boundaries, I make new connections between times, places, and practices that go beyond the binaries of center and periphery, mainstream and alter- native, and aesthetics and politics.
Since the early 1970s, the author has been working among the poverty-stricken Yaka people in rural southwestern Congo and suburban Kinshasa. A descendant of a colonizing society, the author sought immersion in a particular Congolese community and later in suburban Kinshasa, as well as insights from within the host group's own rationale and perceptions. Through reciprocal fascination and compassionate encounter, hosts and anthropologists transfer onto each other images, longings, and thoughts that in many ways are unconsciously biased. The self-reflective experience of integration in other life-worlds has helped the author to self-critically scrutinize his own native Belgian socio-cultural matrix. The article advocates a type of post-colonial and psychoanalytically inspired anthropology that urges self-critical understanding of definitions of self-creation in relation to alterity constructs. Any further development of psychoanalytically informed anthropology, or of culture-sensitive psychoanalysis, should draw on this understanding of co-implication and intercultural polylogue, thereby allowing these disciplines to transcend their Eurocentric antecedents.
Paul H. Gobster
What does ecological restoration mean in an urban context? More than half of the world’s population now lives in cities, and in response to the dynamic patterns of urbanization, a growing number of ecologists, land managers, and volunteers are focusing their efforts in and around cities to restore remnants of natural diversity (Ingram 2008). Ecological restoration is still a quite youthful field, yet many scientists and practitioners hold a relatively fixed set of criteria for what defines a successful restoration project, irrespective of where sites are located. Among the criteria commonly stated, sites should be composed of indigenous species, have a structure and diversity characteristic of currently undisturbed or historically documented “reference” sites, and be maintained through ecological processes such as fire that ensure long-term sustainability with minimal human assistance (Ruiz-Jaén and Aide 2005; SER International 2004). Application of these criteria has led to many ecologically successful restorations, but some ecologists in the field have begun to question whether the same standards can be realistically applied to sites such as those within urban areas that have been radically altered by past human activity (e.g., Martínez and López-Barerra 2008) or are being influenced by novel conditions that result in unpredictable trajectories (Choi 2007). Perhaps more significantly, it is becoming increasingly recognized that the broader viability of restoration projects, especially those in urban areas, hinges on how socially successful they are in gaining public acceptance for restoration activities and practices, building constituencies to assist with implementation and maintenance, and addressing a broader set of sustainability goals that reach beyond the protection of native biodiversity (e.g., Choi et al. 2008; Hobbs 2007; Rosenzweig 2003).