2012 - 2010
Andrea F J Moraes. August 2012.
Paulo Ravecca. July 2010.
Gavin Fridell. March 2010.
Leah Stewart. February 2010.
The colonization of the Americas can trace its way back to the word cannibal. This one word, which was spoken in a moment between strangers, ushered in an entire world along with European contact. Used first as a descriptor of a misunderstood signified, the word soon came to be a synonym for “indigenous Caribbean person” and in time to be the sign for a type of “savage” indignity that opposed colonial authority. By examining the word cannibal in a socio-linguistic, historical and literary context this paper will show that post-colonial deconstructions of the colonial legacy ought to properly begin with a decolonization and deconstruction of the word cannibal. The importance of this work lies in the fact that the word continues to be used as a sign and as a signifier that has never actually existed, except within the minds of people who supported colonial rule. This is inherently problematic for both indigenous people in particular and for Caribbean people as a whole.
2005 - 2000
Carlota McAllister. May 2005.
This paper challenges views of the Cold War as a kind of strategic game waged exclusively within high-level circles of power in Washington and Moscow. Using the case of a 1979 uprising staged by Mayan women against a Guatemalan army incursion in the marketplace of Chupol, a small, rural community by the side of the Panamerican highway, I argue that Cold War developmentalism, instead of producing an “anti-political” effect on Chupolenses, granted efficacy to their powers of calculation by targeting rural people like them for incorporation into “the market” of economic theory with interventions like the construction of the Panamerican highway and rural marketplaces. Applying these powers to their own particular situation, including their long-standing engagement in marketing activities as the traditional travelling merchants of the Guatemalan highlands and their historical claim on spirituality as charges of the colonial Catholic Church, Chupolenses made calculations quite contrary to those Cold War developmentalists expected: they became some of the most militant rural supporters of Guatemala’s revolutionary movement. This paper explains this process to show how people like Chupolense women became Cold War actors despite—or indeed, because of—their distance from the centres of Cold War strategizing.
Louis Lefeber and Thomas Vietorisz. August 2004.
Policy implementation within a democratic society calls for efficiency. But because policy concerns range over broad social and political-economic areas, it must be recognized that the efficient pursuit of one particular goal may conflict with the realization of some other, equally important social interest. Hence, efficiency for its own sake cannot be a policy goal. This paper discusses the problems and complexities that arise in the pursuit of equity, stabilization, markets and trade, as well as the issues of social and environmental sustainability. Starting with the limitations of market efficiency when conventional requirements of social welfare are taken into account, it is argued that a more meaningful concept of social efficiency can be obtained with the help of the social development indicators elaborated by the UNDP, augmented by the sustainability indicators developed by the European Union during the last decade.
Liisa L. North, Wade Kit, and Rob Koep. June 2003.
During the last two decades of the 20th century, Ecuador appeared to be an island of peace in the midst of the violence that engulfed her neighbors to the south and the north. A closer examination of events, however, reveals that Ecuador was not immune to persistent human rights abuses and violence on the part of public security forces and private armed groups in the employ of the powerful.
Following a brief description of the rural context of failed agrarian reform within which violence and abuses take place in rural Latin America in general and in Ecuador specifically, this paper uses data com-piled by the Ecumenical Commission Of Human Rights to analyze land conflict related human rights abuses and changes in their frequency in the three principal regions of Ecuador. It offers an interpretation for the variations in conflict frequency and rights abuses in relation to state policies, indigenous protest, and initiatives taken by NGOs.
Luin Goldring. February 2003.
The development potential of remittances has become a “hot” topic in various circles. There are several reasons for the surge in interest, including the dramatic increase in official remittance figures, and economic and political crises in migrant- and refugee-exporting countries. In this context, it is worth revisiting earlier debates on the development potential of remittances, which reached an impasse in the early 1990s. This paper attempts to push discussions beyond that impasse by making two main arguments. One involves recognizing and taking into account extra-economic dimensions of remittances, particularly the social and political meanings and uses of remittances. The second is based on a disaggregation of different types of remittances. Using Mexico as a case study, family versus collective remittances are compared and found to differ quite significantly in five areas. It is argued that the organizational experience and institutional development associated with certain examples of collective remittances can be interpreted as a form of development, one involving the expansion of substantive citizenship in a transnational context, though not without contradictions and limitations.
Gavin Fridell. January 2003.
This article is about the fair trade network that has developed over the past twenty years in response to the negative impact of globalization; in most underdeveloped countries, this impact has taken the form of increased underemployment, poverty, and inequality. Fair traders seek to combat the injustices of global capitalism by promoting the principles of democratic organization; no child labor; recognized trade unions for workers; and environmental sustainability. The article argues that fair trade represents the founding of a nascent international moral economy which unites producers and consumers to demand greater social and ecological justice than the imperatives of the market allow. It remains to be seen, however, if fair trade’s ethical goals can withstand the various pressures that the global market imposes upon it.
Scott Pearce. November 2002.
This paper explores the contentious relationship between foreign investment and political violence in Colombia. In particular, it examines the impact of Canadian oil investment on the armed conflict. In the past two years, there has been a veritable flood of Canadian oil companies to Colombia, many of which are involved in oil exploration and development in regions of the country where conflict is most intense. Indeed, there appears to be a strong correlation between regions of mineral wealth and regions of political conflict. Are Canadian oil companies contributing to the escalation of political violence? Is it possible for even well intentioned companies to conduct themselves ethically in the midst of a war?
Nadine Jubb. July 2001.
The author addresses the issue of advocacy from the women’s movement perspective. She maintains that advocacy can be described as a three-stage process that includes relationships within the movement, between the movement and outside forces, and between the movement and the state. While many similarities can be found between the problems and situations faced by Canadian, Central, and Latin American women, this paper examines the advocacy issue primarily from a Canadian perspective. Moreover, particular focus is places on three examples with the Canadian women’s movement advocacy experience: the National Action Committee; the preparation of the Alternative Federal Budget; and the struggle for equal pay. Each example is examined within the context of each of the three stages of the advocacy process.
Dr. Frances Henry. June 2001.
This paper is based on a three-year ethnographic study of the Orisha movement and the Spiritual Baptist faith in Trinidad and Tobago. It reflects a life long research interest since the author first began studying Orisha, then known as the Shango cult, in 1956. The paper focuses on the growing political and social legitimation of African derived religions in Trinidad society, and on the dynamics of change with respect to the challenge of authenticity within the Orisha religion as well as their growing administrative and centralized infrastructure.
Cirila Quintero Ramírez. April 2001.
The author outlines some findings from her comparative study of the Canadian and Mexican automotive industries in the NAFTA era. Her central objective is to point out the social effects of this commercial agreement on both countries. From a historical-sociological perspective, she presents NAFTA as the continuation of a process that began in the late fifties, emphasizing the centrality of historical conditions, especially governmental economic policies and the status of labour relations.
Gus Van Harten. May 2000.
Future Guatemalan governments would find it more difficult, under an FTAA investment regime, to carry out policies mandated by the peace accords. In particular, it would be more difficult to implement a range of policies designed to address land issues in Guatemala, which are at the heart of rural crisis and ongoing conflict in the country. These include policies to: (1) facilitate access to land and encourage the productive use of land, (2) resolve land conflicts and provide security of land tenure, and (3) promote indigenous land rights. Under an FTAA, these polices would potentially conflict with high standards of investor protection, such as broad notions of national treatment, compensation for expropriation of assets, and a prohibition on performance requirements. Importantly, investors may be able to directly sue governments for perceived violations of their investor protections under the FTAA. The broad impact of an FTAA investment agreement, therefore, could be to place a new layer of constraint on the “freedom of action” available to Guatemala governments seeking to implement the peace accords.
Jim Rochlin. December, 1999.
Together with speculation, a central component of post-modern economics is the significance of the informal or underground economy. Exemplary of this is the immense illicit drug trade. Its presence is obvious in countries such as Mexico and especially Colombia, but it also thrives in a more hidden and unspoken manner in Canada. This industry should be examined within the context of the stream of associated power, which flows through local, national and global spaces. In hemispheric affairs, a ‘crisis’ of narcotrafficking has been constructed to mask the political and military aspirations of Washington. Ironically, the origin of the most serious ill effects linked to the ‘crisis’ is actually the prohibition of drugs, rather than the drug usage itself.
Tanya Korovkin. November 1999.
The article critically applies the theory of everyday forms of peasant resistance (EFPR) to an analysis of land struggles in Ecuadorean Andes. It explores the effectiveness of weapons of the weak used by indigenous peasants in conflicts with the haciendas. The relationship between hidden resistance and the rise of political organization is also examined. Special attention is paid to the structural context and cultural underpinning of both covert and overt peasant action.
Cathy Blacklock. January 1999.
This paper analyses the unprecedented growth of popular women's organizations in Guatemala through the late 1980s and early 1990s. It is argued that although the economic crisis and violent repression which accompanied democratization did cause destabilization of women's socially constructed gender roles this did not lead to a mass-based political mobilization of women. To understand the top-down formation process of popular women's organizations which has occurred it is crucial to consider the strategic orientation of the popular movement in the context of democratization, as well as the growing influence of feminism and the international women's movement. The paper concludes with a discussion of the general characteristics of the organizations which emphasizes their political location within the popular movement.
Sean Lokaisingh-Meighoo. September, 1998.
This paper is organized around the concept of the diasporic mo(ve)ment - both a moment in time and a movement in space, that historical and cultural point of rupture between diaspora and home. It begins by posting diaspora as a style, or "signifying practice" following the work of Dick Hebdige, of identity formation. In approaching the ontological meaning articulated in this style, the relationship between diaspora and modernity is then considered, following the works of C.L.R. James, Cornel West and Paul Gilroy on what is termed in this paper "black modernity". Turning towards the Indo-Caribbean diaspora in particular, the formation of Indo-Caribbean identity is addressed next in relation to South Asian and Afro-Caribbean diasporic identities. Addressing the peculiar sense of "doubled diaspora" in both Indo- and Afro-Caribbean identities, the paper concludes by returning to a theoretical proposition for the articulation of "critical difference" in diaspora. A critique of the emerging academic field of Inod-Caribbean studies is initiated in attending to the relationship between indentureship and slavery in Indo-Caribbean scholarship and culture.
Juanita De Barros. July, 1998.
As Afro-Guianese Congregationalists tried to negotiate some freedom within colonial Guianese society, they demonstrated the oppositional value of Congregationalism as providing an alternative vision of social order. Yet this vision had a conservative cast and suggested an adherence to a Congregationalism where the traditional verities reigned.
Frank F. Scherer. July, 1998.
The recent revival of "Chinese" ethnicity in Cuba is based both on a number of classic, Euro-American Orientalist assumptions of a distinctive and essential Chineseness, and on the "Oriental" use of Orientalist discourse which perfectly illustrates the "indigenous" employment of what I call strategic Orientalism. While the former is being promoted, somewhat ambiguously, by the Cuban state and its intelligentsia, the latter is articulated by first- and second-generation Chinese Cubans. In this way, the very process of reintegrating, re-creating, and re-ethnicizing the Chinese Cuban "community" is marked by the peculiar practice of self-Orientalization. Furthermore, the phenomenon of self-Orientalization feeds, apparently, not only into familiar Euro-American Orientalist discursive formations, but also on the revival of "Chinese religion" in Cuba, and with it, on the recent remobilization of the Chinese Cuban "saint" Sanfancón. In all, the overt reappearance of Orientalism, self-Orientalization and "Chinese religion" in Cuba remain inextricably linked to the profound ideological, political, economic, social and cultural transformations that the island is currently undergoing.
Louis Lefeber. March 1998.
This paper is a review article concerning rural development in Ecuador. As such, it brings into focus the differences between two conflicting views about policy approaches: the establishmentarian position and what the author of this essay believes to be a reasonable and feasible policy alternative. It demonstrates that the establishmentarian policies introduced in Ecuador have been a failure that has lead to the further impoverishment of the population at large; that the key to economic advancement is to motivate rural development combined with means for increasing the purchasing power of the low income population; that policies for assisting commercial agriculture are ineffective for the relief of the large and growing marginal farm sector; and that land reform and employment creation through rural public works are called for.
Judith Adler Hellman. April 1997.
Neoliberal strategies and structural adjustment programs have devastated whole sectors of the Mexican people. Yet the uneven level of mobilization in civil society and the repression of independent labour unions' efforts to mobilize members around wage issues have meant that organized responses to austerity have been partial, sporadic, often uncoordinated, and limited in impact. Moreover, in contrast with Nicaragua or Costa Rica, in Mexico the candidate and political party that articulated the critique of structural adjustment garnered wide support, absorbed social movement activity into an electoral challenge, but was not permitted to take office. Eventually, however, the uprising in Chiapas and the increasingly widespread, coordinated and effective protest activities of El Barzon, created a new form of challenge to neoliberalism.
Alison Crosby. May 1996.
While the Guatemalan peace accords certainly an end to the civil war, they are only a starting point. In effect, the profound transformation of social and political organization necessary to counteract and dismantle a culture of fear created by decades of militarized violence will require the construction of a new Guatemalan nation. Whose images of the new nation will be taken into account in such a construction? This paper addresses this question on the basis of an exploratory analysis of imaginings and narratives of nation in Guatemala. The study focuses on counter-narratives, that is the constructions of nation being developed by indigenous peoples, women, the poor and the politically disenfranchised -- groups whose views have been suppressed and ignored in the past. In particular, the gendered experiences of exile and return as transformation processes are examined. A central argument is how the interaction of organized refugee women with their own return communities and with non-returnee women in the popular movement can illuminate the possibilities for spaces for transformation within Guatemalan society in the context of a post-war era.
Brian Egan. May 1996.
January 1993 marked the beginning of the return of Guatemalan refugees from Mexico on a large scale and in an organized, voluntary and collective manner. In contrast to earlier repatriations under a government sponsored program, the returns which began in 1993 were organized by the refugees themselves and took place under a set of accords signed between the refugee leadership and the Guatemalan government. These accords were designed to facilitate the return of the 46,000 refugees living in camps in southern Mexico on a large scale -- the refugees themselves predicted that some 15,000 refugees would return in 1993 alone. However, the return has proceeded much slower than expected. Less than 4,000 refugees returned in 1993 and by October 1994 only 7,000 had returned in 5 collective returns. There were a number of reasons for the slow pace of return, including continued concern on the part of the refugees about security issues. The massacre of 11 returned refugees in Xaman, Alta Verapaz shows that these concerns are justifiable. Another major reason for the slow pace of return, is associated with the land issue. Most of the refugees are small farmers of Maya descent who seek to return to an agricultural lifestyle in their homeland and thus need to secure access to productive land. In terms of the land issue, the returning refugees fall into two categories. In the first category are refugees who had land when they fled Guatemala and are now trying to regain their lands. In the second category are refugees who have no land and need to find and purchase suitable tracts of land. The problems faced by those in the first category are related to the fact that, in many cases, their lands have been taken over by other farmers, often encouraged to do so by the Guatemalan military. The problems faced by the second category relate mainly to trying to find large tracts of good land at an affordable price. Refugees in both categories are returning to face very difficult conditions, not the least of which is the difficulty of returning to highly militarized zones of conflict. Despite these difficulties, the refugee leadership have cast their return as part of the broader struggle for peace, justice and democratic development in Guatemala. The success of this larger struggle will largely determine the success of the refugee return.
Thomas Legler. May 1996.
It is common for scholars to prescribe an insulated technocracy as a prerequisite for successful economic and political reforms. This paper uses the benefit of hindsight --an examination of the Salinas administration (1988-1994)-- to challenge critically the elitist, top-down and technocratic vision of policy-making prevalent in much of the mainstream literature. True to the conventional wisdom, an insulated, technocratic elite managed the reform process in Mexico. However, instead of leading to the political sustainability and economic success of the reforms, this decision-making style contributed greatly to Mexico's current political and economic crises. With the decline of the post-revolutionary compromise and in the absence of democratic counterweights, Salinas' tecnócratas enjoyed unprecedented policy space. The Mexican experience points to the need to examine the "modernizing" role of technocratic elites in developing countries in a more critical fashion. The Salinas legacy also raises the imperative for democratization; rather than being insulated, economic policy-making must become more democratically embedded.
Catherine L. Nolin Hanlon. February 1996.
The vast majority of Guatemalan refugees in Mexico are Maya Indians from various regions of the country. The aim of this research is to examine the pattern of displacement from these diverse regions in the early 1980s and contemporary avenues of return for the Guatemalan Maya, with particular emphasis on the refugees' choice of resettlement location and government and military intervention. Documents produced by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Mexican and Guatemalan government organizations created to facilitate the return process, were examined along with reports and communiques issued by the representatives of the Guatemalan refugees in Mexico. Also, human rights workers and members of non-governmental organizations working in Mexico were interviewed for their critical analysis of the return process and insight into the motivating factors influencing the decision-making by the refugees.
At every stage in the process of flight, exile, and return, expressions and representations of Maya identity illuminate the complex web of cultural continuity and change. One of the most compelling conclusion of this research is that the meaning of "being Maya" differs between individuals in different times and different places and that a metamorphosis of identity is evident according to two factors: (1) as the sites of representation shift from rural Guatemala to exile abroad; and (2) as time passes. The primacy of place in the construction and representation of Maya identity is highlighted to reveal the intimate connection the Maya have with ancestral land or land they have transformed by labour, a bond strong enough to pull Maya refugees home to often precarious resettlement conditions.
Kirsten Appendini. January 1996.
In recent years, the rural institutional framework in Mexico has been completely transformed in order to promote a model of economic growth based on an open market economy. These reforms encompass two different projects for the countryside, 'modernization' and 'globalization', both of which overlap, complement and contradict each other. The first is supported by peasants and farmers aspiring to higher levels of productivity and international competitiveness; the latter project, being highly exclusive, requires international capital to bring about the integration of the agricultural and livestock enclaves into the global economy. This paper analyses the institutional changes by attempting to interpret the reforms as they respond to globalization while attaining a degree of legitimization for the rural constituency of the former corporate system and incorporating rural producers in the ejido sector.
Louis Lefeber. December 1995.
It has been universally recognized that "trickle down" has not improved the distribution of income, nor has it increased the welfare and purchasing power of the lowest income groups. As the experience of Mexico and various other Latin American countries demonstrates, the growing globalization of the rural economy has increased rural unemployment and migration to urban areas. The loss of domestic self-sufficiency in basic food production has made the low income consumers highly vulnerable to the effects of devaluation. The productivity of labour employed in the modernized agricultural sectors may have increased, but the workers displaced in the process have mostly remained unemployed. Furthermore, competition from foreign investment has displaced some domestic industrial enterprises producing for the domestic markets. As a consequence, the net gain in overall employment from foreign maqilladora investment and agricultural modernization may well be negative. For social welfare accounting the economic and human costs of maintaining displaced and unemployed labour should be subtracted from the productivity gains in the modernized industrial and agricultural sectors. Improvement of income distribution and broad based provision of purchasing power to the lowest income groups, the sine-qua-non of development, require increasing the demand for labour. This, in turn, calls for the reconstruction of the rural economy.
Barbara Hogenboom. September 1995.
The NAFTA negotiations were of great concern to environmental organizations in Mexico, the US and Canada. This paper deals with the transnational cooperation between these groups with respect to Mexico's environmental policy. Within three years many contacts were established, information was shared and ideas were developed. This transnational cooperation came into being despite national differences such as the size, resources, membership, experience and strategy of groups. However, in each of the countries a split occurred between a moderate and a critical position with distinct views on how to materialize environmental protection in NAFTA. The US government's adoption of some of the moderates' ideas played a major role in this division of the environmental community. Partly because of this success, transnational cooperation between moderate groups was limited. Critical groups, conversely, formed a genuine transnational alliance. Despite these new forms of cooperation, Mexican environmental organizations remain weak at the national level.
Maxwell A. Cameron. September 1995.
The devaluation of the Mexican peso in December 1994 triggered a financial panic that required massive intervention by the United States government and the International Monetary Fund in an effort to prevent a full-scale financial collapse. The bailout was driven almost exclusively by a concern for powerful economic interests with a stake in NAFTA. Specifically, it was designed to protect the returns of foreign and domestic investors and restore confidence in Mexico; to safeguard the stability of the international economy and in particular the "emerging markets"; to guarantee the continuation of the process of hemispheric integration; and to assure the stability of the Mexican political system and the restructuring of its economy.
David Carruthers. September 1995.
This is a study of ecology as a focal point for social mobilization in rural Mexico. The paper analyses cross-movement alliance formation between contemporary environmentalism and indigenous resistance, taking a first cut at the study of linkages between two unlikely partners. Environmental groups, staffed predominantly by the urban, educated middle class, have found a convergence of interest with existing peasant and indigenous organizations, representing the most marginalized segment of Mexico's rural poor. These alliances stem from an effort to preserve and defend "traditional ecological knowledge", and to incorporate culturally embedded understandings about the stewardship of natural resources into creative experimentation with sustainable development.
Judith Teichman. September 1995.
Over the last decade, Mexico has carried out a neoliberal economic reform program that has involved the withdrawal of the state from the highly interventionist role characteristic of the pre-1982 period. This article examines the relationship between those reforms and the erosion of the two pillars of Mexican authoritarianism: corporatism and patron clientelism. While the unravelling of traditional authoritarian mechanisms of political control was an unintended impact of market reforms prior to 1989, the administration of Carlos Salinas de Gortari sought to redefine the nature of Mexican authoritarianism, reducing the role of sectoral organizations and establishing new mechanisms of clientelist control. While successful in the short term, the article argues that the new arrangements are inherently less stable.
Maxwell A. Cameron and Liisa L. North. July 1995.
Drawing on a growing literature that compares East Asian and Latin American development paths, this paper argues that the neoliberal reading of the lessons from East Asian experience is perverse and misleading in several respects: it misidentifies both the keys to East Asian NIC success and the causes of past failures in Latin America, and it leads to policy prescriptions that are bound to deepen the Latin American region's social-economic and political crises. A one-sided and inaccurate reading of the lessons of East Asia is especially dangerous in countries such as Peru, which are characterized by weakly articulated and underdeveloped domestic markets, a situation manifested in extreme levels of rural poverty and neglect, an enfeebled industrial plant, and sharp social and regional inequalities. In such countries there is wide scope for a government role to promote growth with equity, especially by encouraging agriculture.
Nibaldo Galleguillos, Ricardo Grinspun and Richard Roman. January 1995.
Canada's official approach to Mexico's affairs appears to be guided by a single-minded, narrowly focused, purpose. Both the former Conservative government and the current Liberal administration base their approach on excessive optimism about the economic gains that might accrue to Canadian corporate business in the short run. In this work, we discuss some alarming social and political developments taking place in Mexico, which we see as resulting from the strongly neoliberal economic orientation that has guided the last two governments and that is likely to persist with the inauguration of the new President, Ernesto Zedillo. We argue that, in light of past and recent events in Mexico, Canada should not actively support the current strategy because it is not likely to bring about significant long-term benefits for most Mexicans or Canadians. We suggest the need for an alternative Canadian foreign and trade policy which responds to a broader set of interests in Canada and that is based on a deeper understanding of the complex patterns of social, political and economic development in Mexico.