Join Dylan Eldredge Fitzwater 12F, author of Autonomy Is in Our Hearts: Zapatista Autonomous Government through the Lens of the Tsotsil Language, for a discussion of his book at Hampshire College on Wednesday, April 17th at 6pm in the Roos Rohde House.
The lessons offered by the Zapatista movement of Chiapas, Mexico are more pertinent now than ever. As the “pink tide” of left Latin American governments recede and the right resurges throughout the Americas and the world, the Zapatistas offer a different way forward. Instead of seeking state power, they have remained steadfast in their commitment to build an autonomous government system beyond the logic of capital and the nation state, and continuously resist attacks on their communities by all sides of the Mexican political spectrum, including the current “progressive” Lopez Obrador administration.
Autonomy Is in Our Hearts gives a detailed account of this autonomous government system based on hundreds of testimonies from within the Zapatista base communities. It is rooted in Dylan’s own experiences of years of Zapatista solidarity work and as a student of Tsotsil, a Mayan language indigenous to the highlands Zapatista communities of Chiapas.
Dylan analyzes the autonomous government system through the conceptual language of Tsotsil imparted to him by his Zapatista teachers. The foundations of autonomous government lie in long traditions of indigenous understandings of labor, spirit, social change, self-defense, capitalism, and the good life. The words “Freedom”, “Justice”, and “Democracy” emblazoned on the Zapatista flag are only rough translations of concepts such as ichbail ta muk’ or “mutual recognition and respect among equal persons or peoples,” a’mtel or “collective work done for the good of a community” and lekil kuxlejal or “the life that is good for everyone.”
Autonomy Is in Our Hearts provides a comprehensive analysis of Zapatista autonomous government that unfolds a new political language for understanding their movement. It is one of the first and most in-depth studies of the political categories of Tsotsil and an indispensable guide to the inner workings of Zapatista autonomous government. Both a good introduction to the Zapatistas and a new perspective for those already familiar with their movement, it is important reading for engaged intellectuals, activists, and organizers.
Dylan Eldredge Fitzwater has encountered the Zapatistas as a human rights observer, as a participant in several international gatherings, and as a student at the Zapatista language school in Oventik. His most recent permanent residence was Portland, OR where he worked at Burgerville, a regional fast-food chain, and organized for the Burgerville Workers Union, an affiliate of the Industrial Workers of the World. He is currently on the road living out of a van and selling Zapatista coffee through MonkeyBear Coop.
This event co-sponsored by Ethics and the Common Good Project, Latin American and Latino Studies Program, and the Sparc Fund.