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Intimate Enemies: Landowners, Power, and Violence in Chiapasby Aaron Bobrow Strain
Synopses & Reviews
Intimate Enemies is the first book to explore conflicts in Chiapas from the perspective of the landed elites, crucial but almost entirely unexamined actors in the stateandrsquo;s violent history. Scholarly discussion of agrarian politics has typically cast landed elites as andldquo;bad guysandrdquo; with predetermined interests and obvious motives. Aaron Bobrow-Strain takes the landowners of Chiapas seriously, asking why coffee planters and cattle ranchers with a long and storied history of violent responses to agrarian conflict reacted to land invasions triggered by the Zapatista Rebellion of 1994 with quiescence and resignation rather than thugs and guns. In the process, he offers a unique ethnographic and historical glimpse into conflicts that have been understood almost exclusively through studies of indigenous people and movements.
Weaving together ethnography, archival research, and cultural history, Bobrow-Strain argues that prior to the upheavals of 1994 landowners were already squeezed between increasingly organized indigenous activism and declining political and economic support from the Mexican state. He demonstrates that indigenous mobilizations that began in 1994 challenged not just the economy of estate agriculture but also landownersandrsquo; understandings of progress, masculinity, ethnicity, and indigenous docility. By scrutinizing the elitesandrsquo; responses to land invasions in relation to the cultural politics of race, class, and gender, Bobrow-Strain provides timely insights into policy debates surrounding the recent global resurgence of peasant land reform movements. At the same time, he rethinks key theoretical frameworks that have long guided the study of agrarian politics by engaging political economy and critical human geographyandrsquo;s insights into the production of space. Describing how a carefully defended world of racial privilege, political dominance, and landed monopoly came unglued, Intimate Enemies is a remarkable account of how power works in the countryside.
Analyzes why landowners in Chiapas with a long history of violently suppressing peasant mobilizations responded to a massive wave of land reform in 1994-1998 with quiescence.
About the Author
Aaron Bobrow-Strain is Assistant Professor of Politics at Whitman College.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations vii
Abbreviations and Acronyms xiii
I. Rethinking Thuggery
1. Introduction 3
2. Honest Shadows: Ethnography and Ordinary Tyrants 16
3. Landed Relations, Landowner Identities: Race, Space, Power, and Political Economy 32
II. Estate Formations
4. Children of the Magic Fruit: The Making of a Landed Elite, 1850-1920 49
5. Killing Pedro Chulin: Landowners, Revolution, and Reform, 1920-1962 80
6. The Dead at Golonchan: Cattle, Crisis, and Conflict, 1962-1994 105
III. Contours of Quiescence
7. The Invasions of 1994-1998: Estate Agriculture Unglued 133
8. Import-Substitution Dreaming: Producing Landownersandrsquo; Place in the Nation 158
9. Geographies of Fear, Spaces of Quiescence 184
10. The Agrarian Spiral 208
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