Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The provocative cocktail: Intellectual origins of the Zapatista uprising, 1960–1994
by Gunderson, Christopher, Ph.D., City University of New York, 2013, 605; 3589725
Abstract (Summary)

Drawing on critical currents in the study of contentious politics and the formation of class, racial and political identities, this dissertation seeks to account for the intellectual origins and global resonance of Zapatismo, the distinctive political discourse and practices of the Ejercito Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (Zapatista National Liberation Army or EZLN) in Chiapas, Mexico. It is an historical sociological case study that combines archival research and interviews with participants in, and observers of, the indigenous campesino movement in Chiapas to construct an intellectual history of the indigenous Mayan communities that form the EZLN's bases of popular support. It elaborates a theoretical account of anti-systemic social movements and other forms of contentious politics as expressions of what Marx called the realization of "species being," "the real movement which abolishes the present state of things" or communism. The study finds that the training of catechists by the Diocese of San Cristóbal de Las Casas produced a layer of organic indigenous campesino intellectuals who became first the leaders of the indigenous campesino movement and later of the EZLN. The study argues that Zapatismo is a product not only of transformations in the political economy of Chiapas and Mexico but of a process of emergent collective revolutionary political subjectivity on the part of the indigenous communities that occurred in the context of a global crisis in revolutionary theory arising out of the contradictory experiences of the socialist revolutions of the 20 th century. Specifically the study argues that Zapatismo is a synthesis of proto-communist elements from the traditional religious worldview of their communities, the liberation theology of the Diocese, the Maoism of several organizations that assisted the communities in the construction of independent peasant organizations, and the left-wing revolutionary nationalism of the EZLN's parent organization, the Fuerzas de Liberación Nacional (FLN) inspired by the Cuban and Nicaraguan Revolutions. The dissertation is a contribution both to the literature on the origins of the Zapatistas and to the development of a Marxist theory of revolutionary social movements and peasant insurgencies.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Aronowitz, Stanley
Commitee: Fox Piven, Frances, Hammond, John, Harvey, David
School: City University of New York
Department: Sociology
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 74/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Latin American history, Latin American Studies, Social structure, Native American studies
Keywords: Chiapas, Communism, Indigenous rights, Mexico, Revolution, Social movements, Zapatista
Publication Number: 3589725
ISBN: 9781303287879
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