The NYU Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS), presents a talk by Melissa M. Forbis (CLACS Visiting Scholar, Brooklyn College CUNY) titled, In Rebel Territory: The Politics of Autonomy, Gender, and Solidarity, as part of the Racisms in Comparative Perspective Working Group, moderated by Professor Pamela Calla.
Hope, the ability to imagine a better future, is necessary for every social transformation. Yet, hope is most often expressed as something beyond our control, whether as a belief that things will be fine, or wielded as an imperative as during the 2008 US presidential campaign. This paper considers hope instead as an embodied practice mobilized through histories of struggle against domination in order to create new worlds from the ruins of the present to paraphrase Spanish Civil War anarchist Buenaventura Durruti. I draw on my research with the Zapatista movement in Mexico to consider how histories from below served as critical resources of hope to combat historical erasure. In the Zapatista case, a temporal frame of struggle linking the racial-gender hierarchies of colonization to neoliberal globalization in a present tense through a continuity of anti-racist resistance was critical to their implementation of territorial autonomy, which allowed for the transformation of power relations in everyday life, and served as an animating force of solidarity.
About the Speaker:
Melissa M. Forbis is a cultural anthropologist and a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at New York University. Her publications on gender, Indigenous rights, the Zapatista movement, and state violence have appeared in the U.S., Mexico, and Chile. She has published book chapters and articles on gender and indigenous rights in Latin America, and recently guest edited the “Protest” issue of Women’s Studies Quarterly. Her book manuscript, In Zapatista Rebel Territory: The Politics of Autonomy, Gender, and Solidarity, is a collaborative ethnography spanning 20 years of the Zapatista movement focusing on the process of constructing territorial autonomy, gendered struggles, state violence, and relationships with non-Zapatista solidarity activists. Her decades-long community work spans issues such as sexual violence and immigrant rights. She is a member of the Interference Archive in Brooklyn and has been working with lawyers to provide expert testimony in asylum cases. She is currently teaching at Brooklyn College CUNY (Anthropology and Archaeology). Her previous positions include Stony Brook University (Women’s, Gender, Sexuality Studies and Sociology) and Rice University (Postdoctoral Fellow Women’s and Gender Studies).