john gledhill on mexican indigenous activism and resistance


John Gledhill, ‘Indigenous Autonomy, Delinquent States, and the Limits of Resistance’, History and Anthropology (2014).

This paper focuses on struggles by Mexican indigenous communities to defend their patrimony and guarantee their own security in an environment dominated by the parallel power of organized crime, paramilitary violence, impunity, and a neo-extractivist economy. After reviewing the relationships between the radicalization of indigenous autonomy demands and transformations of the Mexican state, analysis focuses on recent developments involving a Nahua community on the Pacific coast of Michoacán state that has a long history of successful defence of its communal lands, alongside a Purépecha community in the central highlands that has been its longstanding ally. The violence of external actors reflects the penetration of all levels of government by organized crime, but violence is not a new historical experience in this region. What has changed is that the capacity of these communities to resist has been affected by their internal disarticulation by the same forces.

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