Margaret Cerullo to Speak on the Autonomy Quest of Mexico’s Zapatistas

Margaret Cerullo
Margaret Cerullo

Margaret Cerullo, professor of sociology and feminist studies at Hampshire College, will deliver the talk “From Below and to the Left: Zapatista Autonomy and Resistance without End” on Monday, Sept. 18 from 4-6 p.m. in 145 Integrated Science Building.

The talk is part of the Resistance Studies Initiative Fall Speaker Series, in which distinguished researchers and activists share critical reflections on resistance issues.

Zapatistas are members or supporters of a Mexican revolutionary force working for social and agrarian reforms that launched a popular uprising in the state of Chiapas in 1994.

Cerullo has been engaged with the Zapatistas since 1994, more intensively since 2001. She regularly leads field study trips to a Zapatista community in Chiapas and has written about Zapatista autonomy.

When the Zapatistas rose up in arms on Jan. 1, 1994, and shortly after began negotiations with the government, autonomy was not one of their demands.

How and why did autonomy emerge and nearly become synonymous with the Zapatista political project? Scholars have claimed that autonomy is a challenge to neoliberal capitalism, settler colonialism, neoliberal multiculturalism and the patriarchal order of indigenous communities.

What does it signify on the ground and in the political imaginary of the Zapatistas? Why has the “autonomy” project held such resonance for solidarity and other activists globally, and how has it been re-imagined in distinct contexts? What is the relationship between autonomy and other Zapatistas initiatives since 2006, most recently the postulation of an indigenous woman candidate for the presidency of Mexico in the election of July 2018?