One of my first peer-reviewed publications, “Marginalizing Magdalena – Intersections of Gender and the Secular in Anarchoindigenist Solidarity Activism” (2011), explores the logical and historical connections between gender and secularism, based on ethnographic research of collaborating Zapatista and anarchist activist collectives in support of indigenous peoples’ movements on Turtle Island. This article is a certain summary of my Masters thesis in anthropology (2007), and also forms part of Chapter 3 of my PhD dissertation (and current manuscript in progress) “Good Politics”: Property, Intersectionality and the Making of the Anarchist Self (2016).
Abstract (from Signs—Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 2011):
Anarchoindigenism—a synthesis of anarchist and indigenist philosophies of egalitarianism—is a popular project among contemporary anarchist activists. This discourse, and the practice of solidarity activism with which it is in dialectical relation, signify promising new conversations and coalitions across difference in the transnational struggle against neoliberalism. However, anarchists’ intentions of horizontal solidarity are troubled by the secularism of the anarchist tradition and by gendered definitions of power and politics. By way of an ethnographic analysis of a speaking tour of two Oaxacan indigenous activists organized by Montreal anarchists, I problematize each of these biases in turn and in their relation: the public/private divide as applied to religion and politics and to the domestic and the public is one and the same. I demonstrate the combination of these dichotomies in their marginalization of Magdalena during her speaking tour, as well as argue their historical articulation. By throwing into relief these correspondences, we may better understand the coimplication of neoliberalism, secularism, and gender, and we can better practice transnational feminist, as well as anarchist, solidarity. Beyond critiquing secularism and androcentrism as a failure to respect others’ identity in anarchist solidarity movements, I suggest that this disenchantment tale contributes to what it describes, reducing vision for radical transformation. Likewise, gender-blind constructions of anarchoindigenism fail not only indigenous women but any anticolonial, anticapitalist movement. These interconnected insights become clearer when resistance movements and critical engagement are grounded in the experiences and analyses of indigenous women. As such, I offer this ethnography as a contribution toward a potential anarchaindigenism.
Magdalena arranges the ofrenda (altar) in honour of fallen comrades of the Asamblea Popular de los Pueblos de Oaxaca (APPO) in front of the Mexican consulate in Montreal, Quebec (November 2006); I am found behind her wearing the orange hat, speaking with another member of our collective.
Street art depicting iterations of the Vírgen de Guadelupe, including the “Vírgen de las Barrikadas” popular during the APPO movement. The photos on the left and right were taken in Oaxaca (2010); the middle photograph was taken in San Cristobal de las Casas (2011)—see article for discussion.