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Original Essays | September 30, 2014

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Intimate Enemies: Landowners, Power, and Violence in Chiapas


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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

Product Details

Bobrow-strain, Aaron
Duke University Press
Bobrow-Strain, Aaron
Latin America - Mexico
Chiapas (Mexico) Social conditions.
Land reform -- Mexico -- Chiapas -- History.
World History-Mexico
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Publication Date:
12 illustrations, 6 tables, 4 maps
9.5 x 6.25 in

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Geography » General
History and Social Science » Latin America » Mexico
History and Social Science » World History » General
History and Social Science » World History » Mexico

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Product details 288 pages Duke University Press - English 9780822340041 Reviews:
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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.
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