Advance Pre-final Movement Edition !
For Discussion and Debate on a ‘Not-for-Re-Publication / Distribution’ basis
R
Geopolitics Of Knowledge And the Neo-Zapatista
Social Movement Networks
by
Xochitl Leyva Solano
From
The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ?
Note : This is a MOMBOP Advance Pre-final Movement Edition of this essay
made freely available for Discussion and Debate on a Not-for-Re-Publication / Distribution basis
Please note that this is an advance, and pre-final, version of this essay / document in a forthcoming book, as
below. By agreement between the co-publishers, and with the objective of enabling and encouraging study and
discussion of the essays in the book from as early as possible, and especially among students and within
movements, we and as a part of a larger ‘Movements of Movements Book Organising Project’ - are making the
entire contents of the manuscript for the book available on an advance basis, for free and open viewing of the
individual documents.
So : If you want to cite this version of this essay / document, please give the following citation :
Xochitl Leyva Solano, 2016 ‘Geopolitics of Knowledge and the Neo-Zapatista Social Movement Networks’,
forthcoming / published in Jai Sen, ed, 2017a The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ?.
Volume 4 in the
Challenging Empires
series (New Delhi : OpenWord, and Oakland CA : PM Press), ADVANCE
PREFINAL MOVEMENT EDITION @ [
Add here the link where you have accessed this essay
]
See p 2 of this document for the Tables of Contents of both Parts of The Movements of Movements. Enjoy !
For your information, the final version of this essay / document will be / is available in : Jai Sen, ed, 2017a
The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ?. Volume 4 in the Challenging Empires series
(New Delhi : OpenWord / http://www.openword.net.in, and Oakland CA : PM Press / http://www.pmpress.org/)
The MOMBOP Team. For any questions or for further information about this essay / document or
the book or MOMBOP, contact jai.sen@cacim.net
So that you can see what else there is, in this collection :
Table of Contents
The Movements of Movements
MOMBOP Advance Pre-Final Movement Edition, 2016
Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ?
Invocations
Proem :
Shailja Patel What Moves Us
Introduction :
Jai Sen The Movements of Movements : An
Introduction and an Exploration
1
Movementscapes
1.1 David McNally From the Mountains of Chiapas to the Streets
of Seattle : This is What Democracy Looks Like
1.2 Fouad Kalouche and Eric Mielants Antisystemic Movements
and Transformations of the World-System, 19681989
1.3 André C Drainville Beyond
Altermondialisme
: Anti-Capitalist
Dialectic of Presence
1.4 Tariq Ali Storming Heaven : Where Has The Rage Gone ?
1.5 Taiaiake Alfred and Jeff Corntassel - Being Indigenous :
Resurgences against Contemporary Colonialism
1.6 Andrea Smith Indigenous Feminism and the Heteropatriachal
State
1.7 Xochitl Leyva Solano Geopolitics of Knowledge and the Neo-
Zapatista Social Movement Networks
2
The Movements of Movements :
Struggles for Other Worlds
2.1 Anand Teltumbde Anti-Imperialism, Dalits, and the
Annihilation of Caste
2.2 Jeff Corntassel Rethinking Self-Determination : Lessons from
the Indigenous-Rights Discourse
2.3 Xochitl Leyva Solano and Christopher Gunderson - The Tapestry
of Neo-Zapatismo : Origins and Development
2.4 Roma and Ashok Choudhary - Ecological Justice and Forest
Right Movements in India : State and Militancy - New
Challenges
2.5 Emilie Hayes Open Space in Movement : Reading Three
Waves of Feminism
2.6 Virginia Vargas International Feminisms : New Syntheses,
New Directions
2.7 Lee Cormie Re-Creating the World : Communities of Faith in
the Struggles for Other Possible Worlds
2.8 François Houtart Mahmoud Mohamed Taha : Islamic Witness
in the Contemporary World
2.9 James Toth Local Islam Gone Global : The Roots of Religious
Militancy in Egypt and its Transnational Transformation
2.10 Roel Meijer Fighting for Another World : Yusuf Al-‘Uyairi’s
Conceptualisation of Praxis and the Permanent Salafi Revolution
2.11 Peter Waterman The Networked Internationalism of Labour’s
Others
2.12 Cho Hee-YeonFrom Anti-Imperialist to Anti-Empire : The
Crystallisation of the Anti-Globalisation Movement in South
Korea
2.13 Emir Sader The Weakest Link ? Neoliberalism in Latin America
2.14 Daniel Bensaïd The Return of Strategy
2.15 Peter North and David Featherstone Localisation as Radical
Praxis and the New Politics of Climate Change
2.16 Guillermo Delgado-P Refounding Bolivia : Exploring the
Possibility and Paradox of a Social Movements State
2.17 Alex Khasnabish - Forward Dreaming : Zapatismo and the
Radical Imagination
Afterword
Laurence Cox ‘Learning to be Loyal to Each Other’ :
Conversations, Alliances, and Arguments in the Movements of
Movements
References
Compiled, comprehensive Bibliography for The Movements of
Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ?
Part 2 : Rethinking Our Dance
Invocations
Proem :
Shailja Patel Offerings
Introduction :
Jai Sen On Rethinking Our Dance : Some
Thoughts, Some Moves
3
Interrogating Movement, Problematising
Movement
3.1 Rodrigo Nunes Nothing Is What Democracy Looks Like :
Openness, Horizontality, and The Movement of Movements
3.2 The Free Association Worlds in Motion : Movements,
Problematics, and the Creation of New Worlds
3.3 Jai Sen Break Free ! Engaging Critically with the Concept and
Reality of Civil Society (Part 1)
3.4 Anila Daulatzai - Believing in Exclusion : The Problem of
Secularism in Progressive Politics
3.5 Josephine Ho Is Global Governance Bad for East Asian Queers
?
3.6 Jeffrey S Juris and Geoffrey Pleyers Incorporating Youth or
Transforming Politics ? Alter-Activism as an Emerging Mode of
Praxis among Young Global Justice Activists
3.7 Tomás Mac Sheoin and Nicola Yeates The Anti-Globalisation
Movement : Coalition and Division
3.8 Stephanie Ross The Strategic Implications of Anti-Statism in
the Global Justice Movement
3.9 Michael Löwy Negativity and Utopia in the Alterglobalisation
Movement
3.10 Rodrigo Nunes The Global Moment : Seattle, Ten Years On
3.11 Ezequiel Adamovsky Autonomous Politics and its Problems :
Thinking the Passage from Social to Political
3.12 John Brown Childs Boundary as Bridge
3.13 Chris Carlsson Effective Politics or Feeling Effective ?
3.14 Massimo De Angelis PR like PRocess ! Strategy from the
Bottom Up
3.15 Matt Meyer and Oussenia Alidou The Power of Words :
Reclaiming and Re-Imagining ‘Revolution’ and ‘Nonviolence’
3.16 Jai Sen Break Free ! Engaging Critically with the Concept and
Reality of Civil Society (Part 2)
4
Reflections on Possible Futures
4.1 Michal Osterweil “Becoming-Woman ?” : Between Theory,
Practice, and Potentiality
4.2 John Holloway The Asymmetry of Revolution
4.3 David Graeber The Shock of Victory
4.4 Kolya Abramsky Gathering Our Dignified Rage : Building New
Autonomous Global Relations of Production, Livelihood, and
Exchange
4.5 Muto Ichiyo Towards the Autonomy of the People of the
World : Need for a New Movement of Movements to Animate
People’s Alliance Processes
4.6 Samir Amin Towards a Fifth International ?
4.7 Rodrigo Nunes The Lessons of 2011 : Three Theses on
Organisation
4.8 François Houtart – ‘We Still Exist
Afterword
Lee Cormie - Another World Is Inevitable… But Which Other
World ?
References
Complied, comprehensive Bibliography for The Movements of
Movements, Part 2 : Rethinking Our Dance
MOMBOP Advance Pre-Final Movement Edition
made freely available for Discussion and Debate on a Not-for-Re-Publication / Distribution basis !
Geopolitics Of Knowledge And the Neo-Zapatista Social Movement
Networks
1
Xochitl Leyva Solano
2
This essay attempts a departure from common approaches to
Zapatismo
in order to obtain a different
view; not necessarily a better one, but a distinct one. My focus is on some of the alliances and
convergences that the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (
Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional
EZLN) has developed since January 1 1994, the date on which it declared war against the Mexican
governmentand, implicitly, on the geopolitics of knowledge. These alliances and convergences are
not fixed or permanent, but rather contingent, fluid, and multifaceted. They occur in different ways at
different moments and with different objectives. They have highs and lows, and within them we can
identify tensions, ruptures, and continuities. These alliances and convergences allow the construction
of neo-Zapatism as
social movement networks
.
3
The metaphor of a network in movement
gives us a
vivid image of “multi-layered entanglements of movement actors with the natural-environmental,
political-institutional, and cultural-discursive terrains in which they are embedded”.
4
Alvarez, Ribeiro,
Slater, and Yúdice
5
show how many movement networks in Latin America are increasingly regional
and transnational in scope. Alvarez et al argue that social movements should be understood “not only
to rely and draw upon networks of everyday life but also to construct or configure new interpersonal,
interorganisational, and politico-cultural linkages with other movements as well as with a multiplicity
of cultural and institutional actors and spaces”.
6
I have not found a more adequate conceptualisation of social movement networks than this
one for capturing what the EZLN and neo-Zapatism have generated around themselves. As we will
see below, the neo-Zapatista networks have local roots while they are at the same time the product
of transnational political convergences that generate adherents who define themselves as Zapatistas,
no matter whether in Las Cañadas in the Lacandon forest of Chiapas or in the cities of Venice, Berlin,
London, or Barcelona, to mention but a few.
It should be noted that the Zapatista political identity, originally forged in the context of the
Mexican Revolution in the early 20th century,
7
has been recreated and filled with new contents at the
end of the same century to make room for a political-ideological diversity that can include both an
anarchist unionist from the General Workers’ Confederation (CGT) in Madrid and a German human
rights defender; both an Italian member of the Social Centres and an exiled Chilean in London; as
well as a woman from former Sandinista brigades and a Catalan businesswoman. All of them are
interwoven in neo-Zapatista networks that go beyond transnational defence networks, and also
beyond mere cybernetic networks.
8
These neo-Zapatista networks cannot be understood outside of the Information Age
and of
the rise of the
Network Society
that Manuel Castells invites us to ponder as part of a new societal,
cultural, and economic model;
9
a new model that suffers fractures in the current phase of rupture
being experienced by the capitalist world-system.
10
These networks should also not be considered
outside of an important debate on the knowledge production that goes on within the movements
themselves and that finds itself at a crossroads with academia and politically committed social
sciences. Indeed, this is the other central theme the essay develops as we focus on such questions as
: From where or from which sites are we producing our knowledge(s) ? And more particularly we ask
: What has been the history of this production in the case of the neo-Zapatista networks ? How have
the wider system and the war contributed to outlining the contents of these networks ? And what
about the people who reflect, write, and act within and from them, as some of us do ?
I
Situated Knowledge in the
Capitalist World-System
To begin, let me point out my basic premise : Knowledge is not abstract and unlocated. On the
contrary, any knowledge production is geo-historically marked and has a specific value that is due to
its place of origin.
11
In this sense I here inscribe myself in a long tradition that seeks to produce
2
knowledge which is useful not only for academics but that, above all, supports the strengthening of
the processes of transformation, liberation, and emancipation put in motion by the collectives,
organisations, and movements of which I am an active part. For instance, many of those present at
different national and international gatherings share the characteristic of being academics and
activists at the same time, and of being committed to, and active in, the struggles of indigenous
peoples and the
altermundista
(alterglobalist) networks.
12
It is from this position
that we speak and
from which we build our discourses, practices, and reflections.
13
This position distances itself from
those of analysts who see the movements purely as ‘objects of study’ or as ‘raw material’ out there
awaiting ‘expert’ study and interpretation.
In light of the above, the present text is conceived and attempts to be written in both codes
and for both publics committed academics and activists while at the same time aiming to
contribute to the
de-coloniality
of power, of knowledge, and of being
.
In other words, with this text I
modestly aim to contribute to the development of the de-colonial option which, as Walter Mignolo
points out, already does occur in various semiotic forms parallel and complementary to social
movements that exist on the margins of the political (states, political parties) and economic
(exploitation, accumulation, oppression) structures.
14
We aim to build a critical thinking and practice
that sets itself against the image of a totality that makes us believe that there is literally no way out,
that other worlds are not possible. To the contrary, many of these other worlds are already in the
process of planetary construction. The challenge Mignolo adds is to be capable of thinking and
imagining (and, I would add, of acting) beyond the imperial categories of modernity / coloniality. The
incapacity to think beyond these categories is not due to an individual limitation but due to the
imperial success in handling the coloniality of knowledge that leads us to “accept that other forms of
thinking, of political theory, of political economics, of ontology, of Being do not exist”.
15
In the same direction, Wallerstein’s
world-system analysis
allows us to achieve a holistic and
historic vision that highlights in detail the linkage between the rise of the capitalist world-system and
the development of science and technology.
16
Modern science (and therefore the social sciences) are
the offspring of capitalism and have always depended on it. Without denying this connection, it is
important to add that today, at the beginning of the 21st century, new social relations are emerging
in the interstices between committed academics, flexible activisms, and indigenous as well as anti-
systemic movements. This allows us to affirm that new forms of knowledge production are in
process.
17
This new knowledge can no longer be labelled as exclusively activist or academic. Such
labels serve as boxes that weigh us down, as they classify and objectify us and fail to express the
richness of these new processes. The de-colonial option should lead us to demonstrate that the
movements (networks, organisations, collectives, etcetera) are also places where knowledge-
practicesare produced. As Casas-Cortés, Osterweil, and Powell point out, the recognition of such
knowledge-practices leads us to challenge established scientific borders and promote a more
relational and symmetrical approach among us and within the movements in which we take part.
18
It is in these new interstices that knowledge-practices are being produced, and also collective
epistemic reflections on the processes of knowledge production itself with the purpose of constructing
another kind of power and politics (and of course another kind of social sciences). Such epistemic
reflection is put forward by university students, committed academics, activists, and members of
grassroots organisations and civil society committed to social struggles (in particular indigenous,
feminist, anti-neoliberal, and anti-capitalist struggles). This reminds us that it is from particular
universities, academies, and social sciences that hardened activists and severe critics of the capitalist
world-system have emerged. One can look at the case of Immanuel Wallerstein himself or of many of
the Latin American critical thinkers whose intellectual contributions have been key for the
development of our social struggles, movements, and political networks. As Walter Mignolo writes :
Not only capitalism expanded gradually across the planet. With it and alongside capital came
thought forms of both analysis and justification and of critique…
19
Mignolo points to Wallerstein’s demonstration of how the social sciences were companions of the
empire. It is also Wallerstein who suggests that “their transformation can purge them of the guilts of
birth … and guarantee that they be critical of the empire (today of globalization) and that they not be
at their service supplying knowledge of ‘how things are’ without asking for ‘the what and the why…’
”.
20
Since the late 1990s, Immanuel Wallerstein has emphasised that the current systemic crisis
we find ourselves in, is present not only in the economic scenario but also in the political scenario of
3
the anti-systemic movements and in the cultural scenario of the metaphysical presuppositions of
knowledge. Concerning these last two levels, that of the movements and the epistemic, Wallerstein
predicted that reformulations and reconsiderations of strategies and concepts would take place; and
indeed, that is what we are already seeing and experiencing today. For that reason we must continue
to act and contribute on these two levels. This is my basic motivation as well as direction as I put
forward my present reflections.
II
Geopolitics and the ‘Zapatista Social Netwar
It was neither coincidence nor innocent curiosity that made researchers working at the core of Empire
and the capitalist system among the first to worry and write about the EZLN. They did so within a
framework of war and, in particular, pointed to new forms of making war beyond a bipolar Cold War
dynamic. The economic relations and the border between Mexico and the United States of America
made the Zapatista uprising of January 1 1994, an (inter)national security issue. For this reason,
David Ronfeldt, John Arquilla, Graham Fuller, and Melissa Fuller, researchers in the service of the
United States government and its army, were the first to publish a book about social netwarand
Zapatism. Their emphasis was on military rather than political aspects, and for a particular and very
practical reason : Orienting the military and political strategy of Empire. This orientation would in time
also influence the actions of the Mexican government and its army. Let us then look then at the
postulates of these authors embedded in Empire.
For Ronfeldt et al, the Zapatista uprising created a model that contributed both to
understanding the new social movements and actors in the 1990s and to building new concepts for
the development of perspectives on contemporary and emerging military organisation, doctrine,
strategy, and technology.
21
This innovative model came to be paradigmatic given the characterisation
of social conflicts in a New World Order in which network-based conflicts and crimes are continuously
increasing. One example given by Ronfeldt et al is the way in which groups such as the Irish
Revolutionary Army (IRA), the Hamas, or the Shining Path have used the Internet to broaden their
battles. Another example they give is the way in which the effects of the information revolution have
opened spaces of communication with the world in relatively closed contexts such as China, Iran,
Iraq, and Cuba, contributing to the ‘advance of democracy’. Ronfeldt et al added the cases of Saudi
Arabia and Burma in which social netwars have eroded authoritarian regimes.
From Ronfeldt et al’s perspective, the post-1994 instability and conflict in Mexico presented
the challenge of the existence of social netwars such as the Zapatista network coexisting with armed
guerrilla networks or criminal drug-trafficking networks. As these authors pointed out in 1998, the
stability needed to govern Mexico would depend in large part on the control and destruction of all
these networks. Ten years on, we know that the criminal and drug-trafficking networks control almost
three-quarters of the country and are in open and declared war against the federal government.
The Zapatista social netwar was characterised by Ronfeldt et al as having emerged from an
early solidarity between the EZLN and Mexican, US, and Canadian NGOs. By 1994 these NGOs had
already consolidated social networks that were being reactivated and updated with new contents.
After the Ocosingo massacre in 1994, autonomous groups created new alliances with rhizomatic
connections in which the key principles were mutual consultation, collaboration, information-sharing,
planning of joint actions, decentralisation, and the rejection of hierarchies. From this perspective,
netwar means dense and constant information, and permanent and multilateral flows of
communication. In netwars, each of the existing nodes may represent an individual, an organisation,
or the state itself. Social netwars are segmented, polycentric, and ideologically integrated, thanks to
shared objectives and despite the fact that not every participant thinks alike.
22
In post-1994 Chiapas, according to Ronfeldt et al, the
Zapatista social netwar
was activated
both on land (with the arrival of NGO activists in Chiapas and in Mexico) and in cyberspace. In the
latter domain, the Zapatistas and the cybernauts aimed to shape people’s beliefs and attitudes. The
NGO activists released both “information operatives” and public relations “battles” to legitimise the
EZLN and to de-legitimise its enemy, the government. The former were very effective, enabling the
dissemination of information on Chiapas that came back to the Mexican government in the form of
pressure. Ronfeldt et al concluded that had it not been for that pressure, the Zapatista demands
would not have had the effect they did have both on the government and on public opinion. These
4
tactics were combined with the dissemination of faxes, face-to-face interviews with diplomats,
marches, protests, organisation of conferences, and with the use of “old mechanisms of war”.
In Ronfeldt et al’s formulation, social netwars
do not aim to destroy the enemy but to disrupt
it with flexible, adaptable, and versatile “offensives”. The tactic is “pulsing” or “swarming” the target,
that is, the nodes converge from multiple directions, coalesce rapidly and stealthily, and then dissever
and disperse, immediately ready to recombine for a new pulse.
23
Under this logic, the effects of the
Zapatista social netwar were multiple. For the EZLN, the network gave it legitimacy and the possibility
to resist the Mexican government.
24
In a broader framework, the idea of a ‘Zapatista social netwar
contributed to sharpening international perceptions of crisis and instability in Mexico, at the same
time that it was affecting the predominance of the Mexican national state in key areas.
Ronfeldt et al pointed out that this netwar was something alien and new for the Mexican
government. The government therefore had to learn how to combat it, despite the fact that it
considered the Zapatista network only a “threat” and not a real “challenge”.
25
The new governmental
actions involved the army and the NGOs, the latter being perceived as “the bracketing forces” of the
network. In that perspective, the army was part of centralised state power, while the NGOs were part
of the emerging anti-hierarchical power. From that logic, the actions of persecution or repression
against national and international NGO activists formed part of a well-studied and well-planned
governmental counterattack against the Zapatista social netwar. Such an outlook also justified the
“constitutionally-sustained” deportation of foreigners with tourist visas (that do not permit any form
of political participation) who came for the Zapatista Intergalactic Encounter of 1996 and participated
in the installation of
Zapatista autonomous municipalities. Ronfeldt et al mention the creation of
“special visas” for international observers as a loophole to allow foreign participation in human rights
and electoral certification issues.
26
These visa politics implied a total control by the government of all
foreigners who entered the country and allowed it to effectively restrict their observation to certain
processes, at a time when human rights violations occurred in many more areas than the
government’s legal observation permits allowed to monitor. In Ronfeldt et al’s political-military vision
that was precisely what the Mexican government should have done. Of course, in the interpretation
of these authors there is no room for consideration of the human rights abuses that were denounced
by several local NGOs, relating to the way in which many of the “deportations” (of those sympathising
with
Zapatismo
) were carried out. In many cases these were arbitrary expulsions and human rights
violations.
27
The Mexican army realised that it needed to remake its public image and its relationship with
the mass media. The army undertook psychological warfare, sky shooting, and leafleting out of
helicopters, while also tightening its relations with the United States army in terms of weapons
exchange, training, and advisory services.
28
The most exemplary case of this exchange was Mexico’s
Airborne Special Forces Groups (GAFEs), trained in the United States to carry out counternarcotics
operations. These forces then “also gained counterinsurgency, antiterrorist and other internal security
roles” in accordance with the counter-netwar policies.
29
Two years later these new tasks were denounced in an investigation undertaken by Global
Exchange, CIEPAC, and CENCOS.
30
According to their report, between 1996 and 1999 Chiapas had
the highest concentration of GAFEs and was host to the “first Rapid Intervention Force (FIR) formed
in the country”. As indicated by their data, by late 1999 30 per cent of the Mexican armed forces
were stationed in Chiapas.
31
Just a few months prior to the publication of their report, 45 indigenous
persons, primarily women and children from the
Las Abejas
civil society organisation, were gunned
down by paramilitary forces in the Acteal massacre.
Ronfeldt et al emphasised that the Mexican army “eagerly wanted to crush the rebellion
forcefully” but had to readjust itself to the new situation and respond to the network with a counter-
netwar policy. They even asserted that the Mexican government was advised to abandon heavy-
handed counterinsurgency methods. However, they conceded that in the case of the Chiapas conflict
zone, the Mexican army used an exhaustive covering or “blanketing” strategy to prevent the outbreak
of additional fighting and to impede the movement of EZLN forces. This strategy confined the EZLN to
limited areas of action.
32
Such an account of events does not, of course, explain how the militarisation
and paramilitarisation of Chiapas later expanded beyond the so-called conflict zone.
A final observation by Ronfeldt et al in 1998 was that the United States army was also
readjusting to the new circumstances, by using a new language, developing new strategies, and
founding new military schools. This was due, in part, to the fact that the impact of this netwar was
greater in the United States because this country was leading in Internet use in the world. But it was
5
not really until after the terrorist attacks of September 11 2001 that the notion of social netwars was
popularised in the US through the media. This was after the revelation that the terrorist cells that
perpetrated the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York City had operated through transnational
networks crisscrossing both the Muslim and the Christian world. Then, for the first time, we heard the
United States Secretary of Defence publicly declare on the CNN television network that “we cannot
predict the end of this war because we are not confronting, as before, a state or a nation, but instead
terrorist networks”.
33
Ronfeldt et al’s book presented itself as an academic study, when it was in fact based on
research carried out in order to orient the political-military strategy of the Empire. Despite the
references cited in what appears to be a kind of theoretical framework, the book cannot conceal its
true intention : A war logic that aimed to identify an enemy in order to isolate, destroy, and
immobilise this enemy. Therein lies the danger for those labelled ‘enemies’ (the EZLN, activists,
NGOs, and those of us who form part of the pro-Zapatista networks). It is also important to point out
that many of Ronfeldt et al’s interpretations were evolutionist, romanticising the indigenous world and
simplifying the entanglement of the networks. The authors went so far as to affirm that the Council of
Indigenous and
Campesino
Organisations of the State of Chiapas (CEOIC) was an “NGO”,
34
when
those of us who participated in this council know that it was a political convergence of
campesino
,
social, and civil organisations formed in the heat of the war. None of this would be relevant if it were
not for the lives of real people who in many cases have been persecuted, attacked, or repressed due
to the interpretations derived from this type of study.
It is clear from subsequent events that Ronfeldt et al’s book has not remained hidden in the
library of some obscure university, but has served both the United States and Mexican governments
to encourage and justify the persecution and, very often, the political, physical, psychological, or
cybernetic annihilation of individuals and groups labelled as being part of the Zapatista social
networks. The study has served to sustain xenophobic policies that pretend to “protect the nation and
Mexicans from pernicious foreigners”. But even more, the term ‘social netwarsitself from the outset
criminalises social movements, organisations, networks, collectives, individuals, and politicised
groups. This criminalisation is evident when social movement networks are placed on a par with drug
trafficking or organised crime networks. They are said to fit the same bill because they share a
network structure. But it is obviously not the same to struggle for justice, dignity, and equality as to
break the laws of the state for personal benefit and profit. In the end, perhaps the only point on
which we can concur with these authors is that, without any doubt, the Zapatista networks were
born, live, and reproduce in a war context. The following section presents a very different way of
understanding the articulations between war, networks, and social movements that is, the neo-
Zapatista networks.
My approach is from within social movement networks and is therefore clearly very different
to that of these authors. It corresponds to another logic, that of anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist
struggles. Unlike the approach of these authors, reviewed extensively in this section, ours does not
pretend to reflect upon the networks from the outside, aiming at controlling, dominating, or
destroying them. On the contrary, I propose to rethink them from the inside in order to strengthen
our shared political work that thrives on an anti-systemic orientation, rhythm, and meaning. This
fundamental difference reminds us of our starting point, the importance of bearing witness to the
positionality of every actor and taking it into account in order to understand what he or she says and
which practices are backing up his or her words, ideas, or arguments.
III
From Guerrilla Warfare to neo-Zapatista Networks
Before entering the topic of the Zapatista networks, it is important to clarify that it is one thing to
speak of the EZLN before 1994 and another to refer to it after January 1 of that same year. Its pre-
1994 history has been the centre of heated polemics, but to date there is a certain consensus
regarding the existence of a past that is rooted in the ideas of revolutionary change so typical of Latin
American leftists in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s.
35
For example, it is well known that the political origin of
the EZLN, the National Liberation Forces (
Fuerzas de Liberación Nacional
FLN), had among their
objectives “to organise, direct, and lead the revolutionary struggle of the people in order to seize
power from the bourgeoisie”, and to “liberate our
patria
from foreign domination and instate the
dictatorship of the proletariat … as a [new] government of workers that will impede the
6
counterrevolution and begin to build socialism in Mexico”.
36
It is also documented that up to 1992,
those who enlisted in the ranks of the EZLN confirmed their adherence to the “international
proletariat” and swore to defend “the revolutionary principles of Marxism-Leninism and their
application to national reality”.
37
The oath concluded with the statement : “I swear that I will combat
the enemies of my
patria,
until death if necessary … and [I will do so] for socialism. Let us live for the
patria
or die for freedom.”
38
On this point, sub-commander Marcos explained in an interview with Yvon Le Bot that the
movement’s tradition was that of Guevara and not Marxism-Leninism, and that during its years of
clandestine existence it had received no assistance from any Latin American guerrilla group.
39
Carlos
Tello and the journalists La Grange and Rico wrote books to demonstrate the contrary; in other
words, that sub-commander Marcos had been trained in Nicaragua with the
Sandinistas
and that Fidel
Castro’s Cuba had made an exception with the FLN by supporting them unconditionally.
40
But neither
Cuba nor the
Sandinistas
confirmed these statements.
Much has been written about the revolutionary and guerrilla origins of the EZLN. Sub-
commander Marcos himself has indicated that the political ideology that he and his companions from
the FLN brought to the forest was transformed “from a square one to a round one” in light of the
indigenous reality they were faced with.
41
The historic reconstruction of the guerrilla or revolutionary
origins of the EZLN have been undertaken by many, and often with negative intentions, for instance,
to point a finger at its supposed incongruities. Carlos Tello attempted to discredit the Zapatistas by
accusing them of a double discourse, a socialist one within their own ranks and a democratic one for
the rest of the world.
42
Pedro Pitarch, on the other hand, tried to show how the Zapatistas went from
using a “revolutionary-socialist” discourse in 1992 to a “national-populist” one in 1995, by which time
the indigenous people had become the centre of the discourse and the good guys of the picture.
43
Tello and Pitarch coincide in highlighting the transformations of the discourse and the identity
of the Zapatistas over time. For any active member of a social movement or one of its scholars, this is
not an issue of congruence or a lack of it. As we all know, any movement is in movement and
constantly makes and remakes practices, identities, and ideologies in the development and evolution
of the movement itself. Only by starting from that perspective can we see beyond the governmental
discourse that after 1994 invented, used, and broadly disseminated the term ‘Zapatista guerrilla’ in
order to discredit and minimise the impact and importance of Zapatism. The governmental discourse,
however, should neither blind us nor keep us from recognising and understanding the guerrilla origins
of the movement, since the Zapatista grassroots themselves permanently refer to them.
At the same time we should emphasise that, in the course of its development and evolution,
the EZLN has distanced itself from that guerrilla tradition which had as its declared goal the taking
over of power. We also have to highlight the weight that the EZLN has accorded to political solutions.
This and the way the EZLN perceives politics clearly differentiates the Zapatistas from their
antecedents. As sub-commander Marcos indicates :
We have been pondering that if we were able to conceive a change of premise on the view of
power, that is, the problem of power, proposing that we don’t want to take it, this might produce
another form of doing politics and another type of politician, other human beings that would do
politics in a different way, unlike those people that we have to put up with today all across the
political spectrum.
44
At the risk of being schematic, one could propose the following equation : While the neo-
Zapatista
networks are part of what Manuel Castells calls the
network society
and
the
Information
Age
,
45
the guerrilla war flourished in the old framework of the Cold War. The FLN, and to a certain
degree the EZLN itself, at least prior to 1994, belong to this latter framework;
46
but the neo-Zapatista
networks have moved way beyond these origins. At this moment in time (2009), they are
nevertheless important referential nodes that have been contributing since the end of the 20th
century to the construction of what Boaventura de Sousa Santos has called counter-hegemonic
globalisationand François Houtart the globalisation of resistances. We have to see the
internationalist pro-Zapatista
networks within this framework and, in order to do that, we shall
attempt to rethink them in the next section.
IV
Internationalist Neo-Zapatista Networks and an Encounter in Europe
47
7
The different socio-political networks that made up neo-Zapatism after 1994 have been constituted
by members of NGOs and collectives, as well as neighbourhood, urban, and university movements,
not to mention
campesino
(peasant), indigenous, teachers’, and women’s organisations. Other
members of these networks were individuals without a history of prior political affiliation or militancy,
and still others have had a long, medium, or short-term history of political experiences. All of them
organised and expressed themselves through coordinating committees, conventions, workshops, fora,
assemblies, congresses, meetings, collectives, and consultations. All these organisational forms have
backed the Zapatista political demands at different moments, but they have also contributed to
transforming them. For purely analytical purposes, we have therefore come to speak of neo-Zapatista
agrarian networks, democratic-electoral networks, indigenous-autonomist networks, revolutionary-
alternative networks, and internationalist networks.
48
I will not go into the details concerning each of the different kinds of networks that we can
identify.
49
But to provide a clearer idea of the nature of the internationalist neo-Zapatista
networks, I
would like to share some of my personal experiences and exchanges with European Zapatistas
.
In
1999, in a small city near Barcelona, the Second European Encounter of Zapatista Collectives was
held. I attended the meeting along with members of 21 Zapatista collectives from eight central
European countries.
50
At this level, international neo-Zapatism
is prismatic and multifaceted, with the
translation of EZLN ideals into many languages, ideologies, and political cultures. Many of these
European Zapatistas were able to construct from their local realities and everyday problems a shared
agenda with the EZLN. Undoubtedly, this is possible because the anti-neoliberal and anti-capitalist
struggles have fostered the construction of a moral grammarthat sustains transnational political
agendas.
51
I found that among the most relevant grammars shared by the members of different neo-
Zapatista
networks are those that are based on the struggles for recognition and advocacy of rights,
be they human, indigenous, ethnic, or women’s rights, as well as those based on autonomy and
resistance.
At the European Zapatista Encounter, the Zapatistas of the Lugano collective in Switzerland
were labourers, students, and farmers who struggle against transnationals like the Coca Cola
Company and the advance of neoliberalism. Those of the Sicily collective in Italy worked on
confronting problems of immigration, exclusion, and poverty in the southern regions of their country.
Those from Copenhagen, Denmark, described themselves as part of the Danish resistance movement,
and of a much broader resistance organisation stretching from Chiapas to Kurdistan. In Granada,
Spain, the neo-Zapatista
experience was embedded in a spiritual commune that ran an autonomous
cultural centre in a squatted house. In Paris, the MAR defined itself as part of the anti-neoliberal
struggle within the most radical wing of the Parisian left.
52
Another Parisian neo-Zapatista
was a
colourist in a fashion company and the daughter of a Colombian immigrant working as a cleaner.
In Bristol, England, the residents of an alternative community centre, part of the autonomous
movement, made Zapatism a meeting ground for individuals who had participated in solidarity actions
with Central America, and members of a soccer club that had become politicised while facing
problems of immigration and racism. In Madrid, the anarchist unionists of the General Workers’
Confederation (CGT), libertarians
par excellence
, saw in Zapatism the possibility to advance the idea
of forming a broader international front while revitalising their own organisation.
In Geneva, Switzerland, a member of a Zapatista collective defined himself as a rebel,
craftsman, and squatter, in rejection of the advance of capitalism in general and of the bourgeois
form of life of his wealthy family in particular. In an industrial town of the eastern valleys of Cataluña,
a solidarity group working in support of indigenous peoples in Chiapas was headed by a prosperous
businesswoman from the furniture industry who found similarities between the autonomous Zapatista
communities and the Catalan resistance against the occupation of the Spanish state. In a nearby
town, the neo-Zapatistas emerged from an experience of solidarity with Nicaragua that they now
extended to Kosovo and Chiapas. And in Tuscany, Italy, the neo-Zapatistas were anarchists,
grassroots Catholics, and local industrialists.
In the European capitals of Barcelona, London, and Berlin, I found that the neo-Zapatistas
had all been members of old solidarity networks with the Central American guerrilla movements that
had been founded in the 1980s, or with leftist militants, victims of South American dictatorships and
coups d'état
dating back to the 1970s. The United States and Canadian neo-Zapatistas also came
from Central American support networks, as well as anti-NAFTA networks organised prior to 1994.
Members of either an Evangelical or the Catholic Church, working within the Liberation Theology
paradigm or following the Theology of the Poor, often constructed the pro-Central America networks.
8
Support received by Nicaragua from Barcelona and London was particularly relevant. Latin American
Houses (
Casas Latinoamericanas
) existed in Barcelona, London, and Berlin each with its particular
nameand played a central role in the formation of the cultural and political movement of the old
solidarity movements with Central America. More than anything, these were the loci of socio-political
networks that were being reactivated after 1994 in response to war like those fought in Chiapas and
Kosovo.
In London and Berlin, the neo-Zapatistas
were also part of the local socio-political networks
created around Chilean political refugees who had left their country after the military takeover in
1973 led by Augusto Pinochet. In Berlin, these refugees promoted the foundation of a centre for Latin
American information and analysis. In recent years this centre has sheltered pro-indigenous groups
from Chiapas. Other Chileans residing in London circulated information on Zapatism in local Spanish-
language newspapers and through the distribution of flyers in salsa clubs and dance schools owned
by Colombian immigrants, thus giving Zapatism a new international dimension.
The internationalist neo-Zapatista networks addressed in this section are not only cybernetic.
They were, and are still, constructed from the organisational lives of the participants in movements,
networks, and collectives. Not all of their dimensions, nodes, ruptures, and reaches have been
developed here. A detailed study of the historical formation and transformation of the neo-Zapatista
networks exceeds the range of this essay.
53
Here we have only begun to address some of the issues
that will allow us to understand how the EZLN and we, its followers, have formed the neo-Zapatista
networks. In these networks, the transnationalisation of Zapatista demands has been made possible
thanks to the construction of knowledge-practices developed around cognitive frameworks, moral
grammars, and concrete practices that are based on the defence of rights and autonomy, and on
anti-neoliberal, anti-capitalist, and anti-systemic resistances.
54
These knowledge-practices have many
local meanings and nuances, but as we saw in the case of the 1999 European Zapatista Encounter,
they have in common a global resonance in the current crisis of the capitalist world-system.
When I first published my ideas on the neo-Zapatista networks in 1998 and 1999,
55
the
reactions were varied. On the one hand, several colleagues, students, and activists showed interest in
the perspective I proposed. On the other hand, some activists verbally criticised that first article
because I did not include in it the political-military aspects of the conflict, that is, the context of the
war in Chiapas in which the EZLN and the neo-Zapatista networks had to act. The criticism of these
activists was not a minor issue, considering that in December 1997 the Acteal massacre had been
perpetrated, and since 1994 the government had embarked on a low intensity warfare that was
aimed at destroying the EZLN and its allies. This counterinsurgency campaign continued despite the
fact that the government had formally declared a unilateral ceasefire on January 12 1994, and that in
February 1996 the first peace agreements between the federal government and the EZLN had been
signed. The original idea behind these peace accords was that they would lead to profound
constitutional reforms. On the contrary, the paramilitary attacks, the suspension of peace negotiations
and dialogue, and the descent of the peace process into the government’s counterinsurgency
operations demonstrated that the EZLN and the extended neo-Zapatista networks had to act in a war
context that was identified by some political actors as an “unresolved political and military conflict”.
56
For all these reasons, we should stress that the neo-Zapatista networks are without a doubt a
very important actor, particularly in terms of denouncing the abuses committed by the government
and the Mexican state in the context of a war aimed at making the EZLN disappear, as well as its
autonomous municipalities and Good Government Committees (
Juntas de Buen Gobierno,
JBG).
57
Indeed, these Good Government Committees continue operating to this very day (October 2009) as
they give shape to real Zapatista autonomy and inform a concrete anti-neoliberal and anti-capitalist
struggle.
III
Final Comments : Knowledge is always situated
As a final comment, I would like to add part of my own story in order to return to the point of
departure of this essay, which was the knowledge production developed from and within neo-
Zapatista networks. As a child, I went to a so-called ‘active primary school’, the teaching method of
which was inspired by the philosophy of Freinet,
58
based on the principles of respect, commitment,
dignity, love, freedom of expression, and a co-responsibility shared by pupils, teachers, and parents
alike. The school encouraged the free writing of texts, presentations, and collective and horizontal
9
discussions around the central issues concerning our school and its educational policies, and provided
a printing workshop to foment a cooperative but critical spirit that we exercised verbally in assemblies
and through in-school writing communications. I grew up in tune with all these vital collective forms
that would later allow me to identify with the ways of life in Zapatista communities, which are also
based on collective work, consensual decision-making in assemblies, and autonomous processes.
This education also shaped my vocation as a politically committed anthropologist. That
became clear when I started working before 1994 with
campesino
communities and independent
indigenous organisations in the Lacandon forest as it was turning into the political-military centre of
the EZLN. My identification with the political demands of the EZLN emerged almost naturally, and in
the first days of January 1994 I joined in the wide range of civil society activities that were aimed at
breaking the military siege, implementing the peace belts, and forming the local political fronts that
would give body to the Zapatista demands and struggle. In 1996, I became a member of the
international pro-Zapatista networks from where we started to construct what we would later come to
call activist researchin search of the de-coloniality of power, knowledge, and being.
59
I enter into this personal story only in order to return to the two central arguments that
formed the starting block of this essay. Knowledge is always situated.
60
And, reflection upon the
positionality of knowledge production comes out of a radical critique of patriarchal objectivity and
invites us to recognise from where we are speaking and producing knowledge, and how this process
is intricately bound up with our class membership, race, gender, ethnic affiliation, etcetera. According
to this epistemic premise, there cannot exist only one single truth waiting to be uncovered by an
impartial observer; rather all knowledge is partial and contingent. A number of feminists,
61
pioneers
of this debate, have asserted and demonstrated through their own practices that our representations
are the product of our own position(ing). As we have seen, the case of Ronfeldt et al and my own are
no exception.
Finally, as I have already mentioned, the importance of the neo-Zapatista networks is evident
in many instances and in a variety of forms. Suffice it to mention only the arrival on Zapatista
territory of the ‘National and International Caravan of Observation and Solidarity with the Zapatista
Communities in Chiapas’,
62
to express its solidarity with the
Caracoles
and to celebrate the fifth
anniversary of the creation of the Good Government Committees. The significance of such a
mobilisation cannot be underestimated. It occurs at a time when dialogue between the EZLN and the
government remains suspended, and the policy of the Mexican state continues to be one of
repression and criminalisation of the EZLN and the country’s social movements. Under these
circumstances, the importance of the existence and mobilisation of these networks is more than
palpable as they denounce, both in the national and international arena, the abuses committed by the
powers of the state, police, military, and paramilitary groups that operate in Chiapas.
Dra. Xochitl Leyva Solano is researcher and professor of the Centre for Higher Research of Social
Anthropology (CIESAS) located in Chiapas, México, and an active member of the Universidad de la
Tierra-Chiapas (‘University of the Earth - Chiapas). She is member of Neo-Zapatista and anti-systemic
networks as well as those promoting decolonised activist research.
Among her books are
Poder y
Desarrollo Regional
(‘Power and Regional Development’) published in Mexico in 1993;
Lancandonia al
filo del agua (
Lacandonia at the edge of the water’), co-authored with Gabriel Ascencio in 1996;
Encuentros Antropológicos : Power, Identity and Mobility In Mexican Society,
edited with Valentina
Napolitano and published in London in 1998; and in 2008,
Gobernar en la diversidad : experiencias
indígenas desde América Latina
(‘Governing in Diversity : Indigenous experiences in Latin America’),
co-edited with Araceli Burguete and Shannon Speed in Mexico and
Human Rights in the Mayan
Region
, co-edited with Shannon Speed and Pedro Pitarch and published by Duke University Press.
xleyva@mac.com
10
References :
Sonia E. Alvarez, 1998 - ‘Latin American Feminisms “Go Global” : Trends of the 1990s and Challenges
for the New Millennium’, in Sonia E. Alvarez, Evelina Dagnino, and Arturo Escobar, eds, 1998 -
Cultures of Politics, Politics of Cultures : Re-visioning Latin American Social Movements (Boulder,
Colorado : West View Press), pp 293-324
Sonia E. Alvarez, Evelina Dagnino, and Arturo Escobar, eds, 1998 - Cultures of Politics, Politics of
Cultures : Re-visioning Latin American Social Movements. Boulder, Colorado : West View Press
Felipe Arturo Ávila Espinosa, 2001 -
Los orígenes del zapatismo
[‘The Origins of Zapatismo’, in
Spanish]. Mexico : El Colegio de México & UNAM
María Isabel Casas-Cortés, Michal Osterweil, and Dana E Powell, 2008 - ‘Blurring Boundaries :
Recognizing Knowledge-Practices in the Study of Social Movements’, in Anthropological Quarterly, vol
81, no 1, Winter 2008, pp 17-58
Manuel Castells, 1998 - The Information Age : Economy, Society and Culture. End of Millennium
.
Vol
III. Great Britain : Blackwell Publishers
EZLN, 1996b -
Crónicas intergalácticas EZLN. Primer Encuentro Intercontinental por la Humanidad y
contra el Neoliberalismo
[The EZLN Intergalactic Chronicle : The First Intercontinental Encounter for
Humanity and Against Neoliberalism’ in Spanish]. Chiapas, Mexico : Tierra Montañas del Sureste
Francis Fukuyama, 1992 - The End of History and the Last Man. New York : Free Press
Global Exchange, CIEPAC, and CENCOS, 2000 -
Siempre Cerca, Siempre Lejos. Las fuerzas armadas
en México
[‘Always Near, Always Far : The armed forces in Mexico’, in Spanish]. Mexico City : Global
Exchange, CIEPAC, and CENCOS
Charles Hale, 2008 [2004] - ‘
Reflexiones sobre la práctica de una investigación descolonizada
[‘Reflections on the practice of decolonising research’, in Spanish]’, in Axel Köhler (coord), 2008
[2004] -
Anuario 2007. Centro de Estudios Superiores de México y Centroamérica
[‘2007 Yearbook of
the Centre for Higher Studies of Mexico and Central America’].
New Era
(Tuxtla Gutiérrez (Chiapas,
México) : CESMECA-Universidad de Ciencias y Artes de Chiapas), pp 299-315
Donna Haraway, 1988 - ‘Situated knowledges : The science question in feminism and the privilege of
partial perspective’, in Feminist Studies,
vol 14, pp 575-599
Rosalva Aída Hernández Castillo, 2010 - ‘
Hacia una antropología socialmente comprometida desde
una perspectiva dialógica y feminista
[‘Towards a socially engaged anthropology from a feminist and
dialogic perspective, in Spanish], in Xochitl Leyva Solano et al, 2010 -
Conocimientos, poder y
prácticas políticas. Reflexiones desde nuestras experiencias de trabajo
[‘Knowledge, Power, and
Political Practices : Reflections from our experiences of working’] (Mexico, Lima, and Guatemala :
CIESAS, Programa de Democracia y Transformación Global)
Axel Honneth, 1996 - The Struggle for Recognition : The Moral Grammar of Social Conflicts
.
Cambridge, Massachusetts : The MIT Press
bell hooks, 1995 - ‘The Oppositional Gaze : Black Female Spectators’, in Peggy Zeglin Brand and
Carolyn Korsmeyer, eds, 1995 - Feminism and Tradition in Aesthetics (State College, Pennsylvania :
State University Press), pp 142-159
Alex Khasnabish, 2016‘Forward Dreaming : Zapatismo and the Radical Imagination’, in Jai Sen, ed,
2016The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ?. Volume 4 in the
Challenging
Empires
series. (New Delhi : OpenWord and Oakland, CA : PM Press)
11
Axel Köhler, Xochitl Leyva Solano, Juan López Intzin, Damián Martínez Martínez, Rie Watanabe, Juan
Chawuk, José Alfredo Jiménez Pérez, Floriano Henríquez Hernández Cruz, and Pedro Agripino Icó
Bautista y Mariano Estrada Aguilar, forthcoming -
Sjalel Kibeltik : Tejiendo nuestras raíces
[‘
Sjalel
Kibeltik
: Weaving our roots’, in Spanish]. Mexico : Red de Artistas, Comunicadores Comunitarios y
Antropólogos de Chiapas (RACCACH), UNAM, UNICACH, CIESAS, XENIX Filmdistribution, and IWGIA
Bertrand La Grange and Maite Rico, 1997 -
Marcos, la genial imposture
[‘Marcos, the genial imposter’,
in Spanish]
.
Mexico City : Aguilar, Nuevo Siglo
Yvon Le Bot, 1997 -
Subcomandante Marcos : El sueño Zapatista
[‘
Subcomandante Marcos
: Zapatista
Dream’, in Spanish]
.
Mexico City : Plaza y Janés
Xochitl Leyva Solano, 1995 - ‘
Militancia político-religiosa e identidad en la Lacandona
’ [‘Politico-
religious militancy and identity in the Lacandona’, in Spanish], in
Revista Espiral : Estudios sobre
Estado y Sociedad
,
vol 1 no 2, January-April, pp 59-88
Xochitl Leyva Solano, 1998 - ‘The New Zapatista Movement : Political Levels, Actors and Political
Discourse in Contemporary Mexico’. In Valentina Napolitano and Xochitl Leyva Solano, eds, 1998 -
Encuentros antropológicos
: Power, Identity and Mobility in Mexican Society (London : Institute of
Latin American Studies (ILAS)), pp 35-55
Xochitl Leyva Solano, 1999 - ‘
De Las Cañadas a Europa : niveles, actores y discursos del Nuevo
Movimiento Zapatista (NMZ) (1994-1997)
’. [‘ From Las Cañadas to Europe : Levels, actors, and
discourses of the New Zapatista Movement (1994-1997), in Spanish’], in
Desacato : Revista de
antropología social,
No 1, Spring 1999, pp 56-87
Xochitl Leyva Solano, 2001 - Neo-Zapatismo : Networks of Power and War. Thesis submitted to
obtain the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law, Department of
Social Anthropology, The University of Manchester
Xochitl Leyva Solano, 2006 - ‘Zapatista Movement Networks Respond to Globalization’, in LASA
Forum, Vol XXXVII, Issue I, Winter 2006, pp 37-39
Xochitl Leyva Solano, 2008 - ‘
Investigación Social y Pueblos Indígenas: ¿En dónde estamos, de dónde
venimos y hacia dónde parece que vamos ?
’ [‘Social Research and Indigenous Peoples : Where are
we, where have we come from, and where does it seem that we are going ?’, in Spanish], in Santiago
Bastos (compilador), 2008 -
Multiculturalismo y futuro en Guatemala
[‘Multiculturalism and the Future
in Guatemala’]
(Guatemala City : FLACSO-Guatemala and Oxfam), pp 175-215
Xochitl Leyva Solano, 2009 - ‘
Nuevos procesos sociales y políticos en América Latina : las redes
neozapatistas
[‘New social and political processes in Latin America : The Zapatistas networks', in
Spanish], in Raphael Hoetmer, coordinator, 2009 -
Repensar la Política desde América Latina :
Cultura, Estado y Movimientos Sociale
[‘[‘Rethinking politics in Latin America : Culture, State, and
social movements’, in Spanish] (Lima : Programa Democracia y Transformación Global & Fondo
Editorial de la Facultad de Ciencias Sociales de la UNMSM), pp 109-130
Xochitl Leyva Solano, 2010 - ‘
¿Academia versus activismo ? Repensarnos desde y para la práctica-
teórico-política
’ [‘Academy versus activism ? Rethinking practice-theory-politics’, in Spanish], in Leyva
Solano et al, 2010 -
Conocimientos, poder y prácticas políticas. Reflexiones desde nuestras
experiencias de trabajo
[‘Knowledge, Power, and Political Practices : Reflections from our experiences
of working’] (Chiapas, Mexico City, Lima, and Ciudad de Guatemala : CIESAS, Programa de
Democracia y Transformación Global, and UNICACH)
Xochitl Leyva Solano and Gabriel Ascencio, 1996 -
Lacandonia al filo del agua
[‘Lacandonia - the edge
of water’, in Spanish]. Mexico : CIESAS, UNAM, and FCE
12
Xochitl Leyva Solano and Christopher Gunderson, 2016 - ‘The Tapestry of Neo-Zapatismo : Origins
and Development’, in Jai Sen, ed, 2016The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us
Move ?. Volume 4 in the
Challenging Empires
series (New Delhi : OpenWord, and Oakland CA : PM
Press)
Xochitl Leyva Solano and Willibald Sonnleitner, 2000 - ‘
¿Qué es el neo-zapatismo ?
’ [‘What is neo-
Zapatismo ?’, in Spanish], in
Revista Espira : Estudios sobre Estado y Sociedad
,
vol 6, no 17, January-
April, pp 163-202. Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
Xochitl Leyva Solano and Shannon Speed, 2008 - ‘
Hacia la investigación descolonizada : nuestra
experiencia de co-labor
’ [‘To research decolonised : Our experience of co-work’, in Spanish], in Xochitl
Leyva Solano, Araceli Burguete, and Shannon Speed, coords, 2008 -
Gobernar (en) la diversidad :
experiencias indígenas desde América Latina. Hacia la investigación de co-labor
[‘Governing (in)
diversity : Indigenous experiences from Latin AmericaResearch as co-work’] (Mexico City : CIESAS,
FLACSO-Ecuador, and FLACSO-Guatemala), pp 65-109
Sylvia Marcos and Margarite Waller, 2008 -
Diálogo y Diferencia. Retos feministas a la globalización
[‘Dialogue and Difference : Feminist Challenges to Globalization’, in Spanish]
.
Mexico City : CEIIH-
UNAM and Instituto de la Mujer of the state of Morelos
Walter Mignolo, 2001 - ‘
Introducción
’ [‘Introduction’, in Spanish], in Walter Mignolo, compiler, 2001 -
Capitalismo y geopolítica del conocimiento. El eurocentrismo y la filosofía de la liberación en el debate
intelectual contemporáneo
[‘Capitalism and The Geopolitics of Knowledge : Eurocentrism and the
philosophy of liberation in contemporary intellectual debate’]
(Buenos Aires : Ediciones del Signo and
Duke University), pp 9-53
Walter Mignolo, 2006 - ‘
El desprendimiento : pensamiento crítico y giro descolonial
[‘Detachment :
Critical thinking and decolonial spin’, in Spanish], in Walter Mignolo, Freya Schiwy, and Nelson
Maldonado, 2006 -
(Des)colonialidad del ser y del saber (videos indígenas y los límites coloniales de la
izquierda) en Bolivia
[‘(De)coloniality of being and knowing (Indigenous visions and colonial
boundaries on the left) in Bolivia’]
.
Notebook no 1, pp 11-26. Ediciones del Signo, and Globalization
and the Humanities Project. Durham : Duke University Press
Trinh T Minh-ha, 1989 - Woman, Native, Other : Writing Postcoloniality and Feminism. Indianapolis :
Indiana University Press
Chandra Mohanty, 2003 - Feminism without borders : Decolonizing theory, practicing solidarity.
Durham : Duke University Press
Cherie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa, 2002 - This Bridge Called My Back : Writings by Radical Women
of Color. San Francisco : Third Woman Press
Pedro Pitarch, 2001 - ‘
Los zapatistas y la política
[The Zapatistas and politics’, in Spanish]. In
Letras
Libres
,
October 2001. Accessed vr 22.10.09 @ http://www.letraslibres.com/index.php?art=7023
Eduardo Restrepo and Arturo Escobar, 2004 - ‘
Antropologías en el mundo
[Anthropology in the
world’, in Spanish], in
Jangua Pana
, vol 3 pp
110-131. Santa Marta : Anthropology Program,
Universidad de Magdalena
Gustavo Lins Ribeiro, 1998 - ‘Cybercultural Politics : Political Activism at a Distance in a Transnational
World, in Sonia E Alvarez, Evelina Dagnino, and Arturo Escobar, eds, 1998 - Cultures of Politics,
Politics of Cultures : Re-visioning Latin American Social Movements (Boulder, Colorado : West View
Press), pp 325-352
David Ronfeldt, John Arquilla, Graham E Fuller, and Melissa Fuller, 1998 - The Zapatista ‘Social
Netwar’ in Mexico.
Santa Monica, CA : RAND Arroyo Centre. Accessed vr 22.10.09 @
http://www.rand.org/pubs/monograph_reports/MR994/
13
Jai Sen, Anita Anand, Arturo Escobar, and Peter Waterman, 2004 - World Social Forum : Challenging
Empires. New Delhi : The Vivieka Foundation
David Slater, 1998 - ‘Rethinking the Spatialities of Social Movements : Questions of (B)orders,
Culture, and Politics in Global Times’, in Sonia E. Alvarez, Evelina Dagnino, and Arturo Escobar, eds,
1998 - Cultures of Politics. Politics of Cultures. Re-visioning Latin American Social Movements
(Boulder, Colorado : West View Press), pp 380-401
Jesús Sotelo Inclán, 1970 -
Raíz y razón de Zapata
[‘Zapata’s Roots and Rationale’, in Spanish]. 2nd
edition. Mexico : Fondo de Cultura Económica
Shannon Speed, 2006 - ‘
Entre la antropología y los derechos humanos : hacia una investigación
activista y críticamente comprometida
[‘Between anthropology and human rights : Towards a
critically engaged activist research’, in Spanish], in
Alteridades,
year 16, no 31, January-June 2006,
pp 73-85
Liliana Suárez and Rosalva Aída Hernández, eds, 2008 -
Descolonizando el feminismo. Teorías y
prácticas desde los márgenes
[‘Decolonizing Feminism : Theories and practices from the margins, in
Spanish]. Madrid : Ediciones Cátedra, Universitat de Valencia and Instituto de la Mujer
Carlos Tello, 1995 -
La rebelión de Las Cañadas
[‘The Rebellion in
Las Cañadas
, in Spanish]
.
Mexico
City : Cal y Arena
Gilberto Valdés, 2010 - ‘
Reflexiones ético-político desde los talleres de paradigmas emancipatorios
[Ethical-Political Reflections from Workshops on Emancipatory Paradigms, in Spanish], in Xochitl
Leyva Solano et al, 2010 -
Conocimientos, poder y prácticas políticas. Reflexiones desde nuestras
experiencias de trabajo
trabajo
[‘Knowledge, Power, and Political Practices : Reflections from our
experiences of working’] (Mexico, Lima, and Guatemala : CIESAS, Programa de Democracia y
Transformación Global)
José Ramón Vidal, 2007 – ‘
Comunicación y luchas contrahegemónicas
[‘Communication and counter-
hegemonic struggle’, in Spanish], in
Caminos : Revista Cubana de Pensamiento Socioteológico
,
no 43,
January-March, pp 2-8
Immanuel Wallerstein, 1998 -
Impensar las ciencias sociales. Límites de los paradigmas
decimonónicos
[‘Unthinking Social Science : Limits of nineteenth-century paradigms’, in Spanish]
.
Mexico City : Siglo XXI Editores
Immanuel Wallerstein, 2006 -
Análisis del sistemas-mundo. Una introducción
[World-System Analysis
: An Introduction’, in Spanish]
.
Mexico City : Siglo XXI Editores
John Womack, Jr, 1999a [1969] -
Zapata y la revolución Mexicana
[Zapata and the Revolution’, in
Spanish]. Mexico : Siglo XXI Editores, 23rd edition
George Yudice, 1998 - ‘The Globalization of Culture and the New Civil Society, in Sonia E. Alvarez,
Evelina Dagnino, and Arturo Escobar, eds, 1998 - Cultures of Politics, Politics of Cultures : Re-
visioning Latin American Social Movements (Boulder, Colorado : West View Press), pp 353-379
Notes :
1
A previous version of this text has been published in Peru, in Spanish (Levya Solano 2009). Ed : I warmly thank
the author for her permission to publish this English translation of her essay here, and for revising it for this
publication.
2
I wish to express my sincere gratitude to the EZLN and to all the members of neo-Zapatista networks in
different places around the world, as well as to the members of the CIDECI Wallerstein Seminar and to the
14
compañeros
of the UNITIERRA-Chiapas that I belong to. All of them have allowed me to participate, learn, and
construct collectively
knowledge-practices
and other epistemes, and to encourage the
de-colonial option
and
neo-Zapatista critical thinking.
3
The prefix ‘neo’ in the concept of neo-Zapatism is used here not only to point out that the EZLN, which rose up
in arms on January 1 1994, is different from the revolutionary Zapatism of 1910, but also to indicate, as already
argued in previous publications, that neo-Zapatism
goes beyond the EZLN. The latter is a social, political, and
military organisation, while neo-Zapatism is understood to include the EZLN, as well as all the networks,
movements, organisations, collectives, and individuals who link, align, co-align, and converge around the EZLN
demands (Leyva Solano 1999).
4
Alvarez et al 1998, pp 15-16.
5
Alvarez 1998; Ribeiro 1998; Slater 1998; and Yúdice 1998.
6
Alvarez et al 1998, pp 15.
7
Cf Ávila 2001; Womack 1999a [1969]; and Sotelo 1970.
8
Cf Leyva Solano 1999, 2006; Leyva Solano and Sonnleitner 2000.
9
What I consider particularly important in the analysis of Manuel Castells (1998) is his argument that now,
during the
Information Age, we are confronting the rise of new societal forms that remind us of the ways in
which Industrialisation
wrought changes. But I also agree with José Ramón Vidal (2007) that at the end of the
20th century, the ideas of the Information Society and of the End of History (Fukuyama 1992) formed part of a
“hegemonic discourse that was spreading … all over the planet and proclaimed one single world, subject to the
‘blind’ forces of the market”.
10
Wallerstein 2006.
11
Mignolo 2001.
12
Examples of these spaces where activists and committed academics converge in their social struggles and
movements are the World Social Fora (Sen et al 2004), the Emancipatory Paradigm Workshops (
Talleres de
Paradigmas Emancipatorios
) organised in Cuba since 1995 (Valdés 2010, and
http://ecaminos.org/leer.php/5738), festivals like that of the Honourable Rage (
Digna Rabia
) that the EZLN
convened for in 2008 (http://dignarabia.ezln.org.mx), or the First International Colloquium in Memoriam Andrés
Aubry (www.coloquiointernacionalandresaubry.org) also convened by the EZLN, together with the journal
Rebeldía
(Rebellion) and the CIDECI/UNITIERRA-Chiapas in 2007.
13
For a detailed account of the challenges in assuming a
situated knowledge
position
, see Haraway 1988; Hale
2008 [2004]; Restrepo and Escobar 2004; Hernández Castillo 2010, Speed 2006; Leyva Solano and Speed 2008;
Leyva Solano 2008; Marcos and Waller 2008; and Suárez and Hernández 2008. These texts provide an overview
of authors and debates that have aimed at decolonising and
unthinking social sciences
since the 1970s.
14
Mignolo 2006.
15
Ibid, pp 12-13.
16
Wallerstein 1998.
17
Examples that come to mind include the World Social Fora, the Universidad de la Tierra in Chiapas and
Oaxaca, the Center for Integration of Research and Action (CIRA) in North Carolina, the Democracy and Global
Transformation Program in Peru and the Chiapas Network of Artists, Community Communicators and
Anthropologists (
Red de Artistas, Comunicadores Comunitarios y Antropólogos de Chiapas
, RACCACH, see Köhler
et al, forthcoming).
18
Casas-Cortés, Osterweil, and Powell 2008.
19
Mignolo 2001, pp 16-17.
20
Mignolo 2001, pp 38.
21
Ronfeldt et al 1998.
22
Ronfeldt et al 1998, pp 9-16, 40-43, 52, 149.
23
Ronfeldt et al 1998, p 15.
24
Ronfeldt et al 1998, pp 53, 102.
25
Ronfeldt et al 1998, pp 70, 106, 120.
26
Ronfeldt et al 1998, p 83.
27
Cf Archives of the ‘Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas’ Human Rights Centre.
28
Ronfeldt et al 1998, p 78.
29
Ronfeldt et al 1998, p 79.
30
Global Exchange, CIEPAC, and CENCOS 2000, p 112.
31
Global Exchange, CIEPAC, and CENCOS 2000, p 132.
32
Ronfeldt et al 1998, pp 74-77, 79, 107, 110.
33
BBC World News, October 5 2001.
34
Ronfeldt et al 1998, pp 54 and 59.
35
Cf Leyva Solano and Ascencio 1996; Leyva Solano 1995, 2001; and Le Bot 1997. See also the essay in this
book by Xochitl Leyva Solano and Christopher Gunderson (Leyva Solano and Gunderson, 2016).
36
1992 Declaration of Principles by the National Liberation Forces Party, cited in La Grange and Rico (1997, p
226).
37
Ibid, p 228.
15
38
Ibid.
39
Le Bot 1997.
40
Tello 1995; La Grange and Rico 1997.
41
Cited in Le Bot 1997.
42
Tello 1995, pp 206-208.
43
Pitarch 2001.
44
Cited in EZLN 1996b, p 69.
45
According to Castells (1998, p 336) a new world was taking shape towards the end of the 20th century : “It
originated in the historical coincidence, around the late 1960s and mid-1970s, of three
independent
processes :
the information technology revolution; the economic crisis of both capitalism and statism, and their subsequent
restructuring; and the blooming of cultural social movements, such as libertarianism, human rights, feminism and
environmentalism. The interaction between these processes, and the reactions they triggered, brought into being
a new dominant social structure, the network society; a new economy, the informational / global economy; and
a new culture, the culture of real virtuality. The logic embedded in this economy, this society, and this culture
underlies social action and institutions throughout an interdependent world”.
46
Those interested in the evolution of the National Liberation Forces (
Fuerzas
de
Liberación
Nacional
, FLN) and
how they became the EZLN, may consult the interview that sub-commander Marcos gave to Yvon Le Bot in 1997,
as well as the multiple communiqués that the EZLN issued through the General Command of the Clandestine
Revolutionary Insurgent Committee (
Comité Clandestino Revolucionario Insurgente-Comandancia General
, CCRI-
CG) and its spokesperson, sub-commander Marcos. Many of these communiqués have been published by the
journals
Rebeldía
(Rebellion),
Contrahistorias
(Counter-histories), and
Chiapas
. There is also a collection of five
volumes with EZLN documents and communiqués published by ERA.
47
A more detailed account of this encounter can be found in Leyva Solano 2001 and 2006.
48
For a more detailed reflection on these different kinds of networks, see Leyva Solano 2001.
49
Those interested in the different kinds of networks can consult Leyva Solano 1999, and Leyva Solano and
Sonnleitner 2000.
50
I personally attended this event not as an external researcher but as an active member of the neo-Zapatista
networks. I presented myself as such when I requested permission in the plenary to work on our shared
experiences. In particular, I would like to thank the members of the Solidarity Collective for the Zapatista
Rebellion (
Colectivo de Solidaridad con la Rebelión Zapatista
) living in Barcelona. They received me warmly both
in their offices and their homes.
51
Honneth 1996.
52
Ed : In the context of the Zapatista movement in Chiapas, ‘MAR’ stands for
Municipios Autonomos Rebeldes
Zapatistas
’ [‘Zapatista Autonomous Rebel Communities’, in Spanish]; see http://www.sipaz.org/en/chiapas/facts-
about-chiapas/397-zapatista-autonomous-municipalities-and-regions.html. What MAR stands for in Paris though
is less clear, though it’s entirely possible that some activists there were inspired by and - as it were - fashioned
and named themselves this, in solidarity. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to get clarification from the author
on this point as we finalised her text and went to press, so this is the only expansion and explanation I can offer
here, based on suggestions and advice from Christopher Gunderson and Jeffrey Juris. My thanks to them.
53
A detailed study of the historical formation and transformation of the neo-Zapatista networks can be found in
Leyva Solano 2001. Ed : And for a discussion of the widespread resonance of these networks, see the essay in
this book by Alex Khasnabish (Khasnabish 2016).
54
Casas-Cortés, Osterweil, and Powell (2008, pp 50-51) point out that “there is yet to be a common recognition
leading to a coherent theoretical framework of knowledge practices. Such a framework would understand
knowledge-practice as an important part of the collective, crucial work movements do”. They add that “we can
understand many movement related activities as knowledge-practices, which not only critically engage and
redraw the map of what comprises the political, but also produce practices and subjects according to different
logics. As such, knowledge-practices are part of the investigative and creative work necessary for (re)making
politics, both from the micro-political inscribed on our bodies and lived in the everyday, to broader institutional
and systemic change. It is in this sense that movements can be understood in and of themselves as spaces for
the production of situated knowledges of the political”.
55
Cf Leyva Solano 1998, 1999.
56
Global Exchange et al 2000. Cf also the web pages of CIEPAC, SIPAZ, CAPISE, and the ‘Fray Bartolomé de Las
Casas’ Human Rights Centre.
57
The JBG are the
de facto
autonomous spaces in which the Zapatista political theory of ‘leading by obeying’ is
being put into practice.
58
In the 1920s, Elise and Célestin Freinet were pioneers of an educational philosophy in France that led them to
found the Cooperative for Secular Education and to challenge the principles of traditional education. In its place
they proposed as a starting point an experimental process of trial and error, the functionality of work, and the
principle of cooperation.
59
Cf Leyva Solano 2010.
60
Haraway 1988.
16
61
Cf Haraway 1998; hooks 1995; Mohanty 2003; Minh-ha 1989; Moraga and Anzaldúa 2002; Suárez and
Hernández 2008; Leyva Solano and Speed 2008.
62
Participants in this Caravan in support of the Zapatista communities in resistance have included organisations
and individual sympathisers from Chiapas, Baja California, Colima, Chihuahua, Mexico City, Mexico State, Jalisco,
Michoacán, Morelos, Oaxaca, Puebla, and Veracruz; from other parts of the continent, including Argentina,
Uruguay, Canada, and the United States; and from Europe : Aragón, Euskal Herria, Madrid, Catalunya, Valencia,
Murcia, Galicia, Castilla, and Leon in Spain, as well as parts of Italy, Greece, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, and
Denmark.