The University of Arizona

Comunalidad, Guendaliza'a and anti-mine mobilizations in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec

Alessandro Morosin


How do grassroots strategies for the defense of territory inter-relate with the "politics of time" in the early phases of socio-environmental struggles? This article addresses this question via ethnographic research and in-depth interviews in Mexico's Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Opponents of mines and a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in this region invoke comunalidad and Guendaliza'a— indigenous ways of life associated with mutual aid and territorial sovereignty. These values are enacted by networks of activists seeking to protect the land and livelihoods of future generations against global capitalism's drive for cheap raw materials. By rejecting dualist distinctions between Society and Nature, indigenous cosmovisions can help defensive movements forge alternatives to socio-environmental violence. Engaging with this case brings separate theoretical frameworks of defensive resistance, cheap nature, ecological-distribution conflicts, and indigenous cosmovisions into dialogue with one another.

Key words: social movements, indigenous peoples, global capitalism, ethnography, anti-mining

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