Insurgent Encounters

Transnational Activism, Ethnography, and the Political

Insurgent Encounters

Book Pages: 472 Illustrations: 12 illustrations Published: April 2013

Activism, Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Sociology

Insurgent Encounters illuminates the dynamics of contemporary transnational social movements, including those advocating for women and indigenous groups, environmental justice, and alternative—cooperative rather than exploitative—forms of globalization. The contributors are politically engaged scholars working within the social movements they analyze. Their essays are both models of and arguments for activist ethnography. They demonstrate that such a methodology has the potential to reveal empirical issues and generate theoretical insights beyond the reach of traditional social-movement research methods. Activist ethnographers not only produce new understandings of contemporary forms of collective action, but also seek to contribute to struggles for social change. The editors suggest networks and spaces of encounter as the most useful conceptual rubrics for understanding shape-shifting social movements using digital and online technologies to produce innovative forms of political organization across local, regional, national, and transnational scales. A major rethinking of the practice and purpose of ethnography, Insurgent Encounters challenges dominant understandings of social transformation, political possibility, knowledge production, and the relation between intellectual labor and sociopolitical activism.

. Giuseppe Caruso, Maribel Casas-Cortés, Janet Conway, Stéphane Couture, Vinci Daro, Manisha Desai, Sylvia Escárcega, David Hess, Jeffrey S. Juris, Alex Khasnabish, Lorenzo Mosca, Michal Osterweil, Geoffrey Pleyers, Dana E. Powell, Paul Routledge, M. K. Sterpka, Tish Stringer


“The editors’ writing will capture readers’ attention and the stories, radical activist moments, and style of ethnographic writing in each subsequent case study will hold it...This collection represents an important advance in the study of social movements generally and transnational activism specifically as it is the first book to focus on the methods, perspectives and theoretical insights generated by ethnography.” — Julie A. Pelton, International Dialogue

“This new collection of essays edited by Jeffrey Juris and Alex Khasnabish is a refreshing and welcome contribution to the study of social movements…. this is a theoretically sophisticated and engaging collection of essays, and a welcome contribution to our understanding of radical social movements.” — Patrick C. Wilson, Labour/Le Travail

"In short, this is a bold experiment of what an activist-scholarhsip might look like, raising profound epistemological and ethical questions which only become more pressing as the ecological and social crises of this century deepen. I applaud the editors for their courage, and answer their call to bring a militant ethnography to the mainstream."  — Vita Peacock, Critique of Anthropology

Insurgent Encounters makes an important contribution to the ethnography of activism and should be widely read. . . . For those grappling with how to use ethnographic methods in activist research this edited volume will make for a good introduction into many of the dilemmas and insights into thinking through political engagement and transformational change.”  — Junaid Rana, Journal of Anthropological Research

"Insurgent Encounters is an exciting and timely collection. It treats topics of great interest to students and scholars in a variety of fields, especially those concerned with ethnography, social movements, and activist scholarship. I am convinced that the engagement of activist ethnography with transnational social movements has the power to transform the disciplines, and ethnography, in interesting ways." — Michael Hardt, coauthor of the books Commonwealth, Multitude, and Empire

"This important collection represents the best work by anthropologists who are reshaping ethnography 'of' and 'for' social movements. No other book addresses the present-day intersection and increasingly mutual identification of anthropological research and social-movement activism as thoroughly or comprehensively as this does. What's more, one gets the sense that the essays derive from a working community of activist-scholars living up to the vision of 'network' that the volume itself exemplifies. For me, the collection as an artifact and enactment of the kinds of collaboration that it discusses is one of its most fascinating features." — George E. Marcus, coauthor of Designs for an Anthropology of the Contemporary


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Jeffrey S. Juris is Associate Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Northeastern University. He is the author of Networking Futures: The Movements against Corporate Globalization, also published by Duke University Press, and coauthor of Global Democracy and the World Social Forums.

Alex Khasnabish is Assistant Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Mount Saint Vincent University. He is the author of Zapatistas: Rebellion from the Grassroots to the Global and Zapatismo Beyond Borders: New Imaginations of Political Possibility.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments xi

Abbreviations xv

Introduction. Ethnography and Activism within Networked Spaces of Transnational Encounter / Jeffrey S. Juris and Alex Khasnabish 1

Emerging Subjectivities

1. Spaces of Intentionality: Race, Class, and Horizontality at the U.S. Social Forum / Jeffrey S. Juris 39

2. Tracing the Zapatista Rhizome, or, the Ethnography of a Transnationalized Political Imagination / Alex Khasnabish 66

3. The Possibilities and Perils for Scholar-Activists and Activist-Scholars: Reflections on the Feminist Dialogues / Manisha Desai 89

4. From Local Ethnographies to Global Movement: Experience, Subjectivity, and Power among Four Alter-globalization Actors / Geoffrey Pleyers 108

Discrepant Paradigms

5. The Global Indigenous Movement and Paradigm Wars: International Activism, Network Building, and Transformative Politics / Sylvia Escárcega 129

6. Local and Not-So-Local Exchanges: Alternative Economies, Ethnography, and Social Science / David J. Hess 151

7. The Edge Effects of Alter-globalization Protests: An Ethnographic Approach to Summit Hopping in the Post-Seattle Period / Vinci Daro 171

Transformational Knowledges

8. Transformation in Engaged Ethnography: Knowledge, Networks, and Social Movements / Maria Isabel Casas-Cortés, Michal Osterweil, and Dana E. Powell 199

9. Transformative Ethnography and the World Social Forum: Theories and Practices of Transformation / Giuseppe Caruso 229

10. Activist Ethnography and Translocal Solidarity / Paul Routledge 250

11. Ethnographic Approaches to the World Social Forum / Janet Conway 269

Subversive Technologies

12. The Transnational Struggle for Information Freedom / M. K. Sterpka 295

13. This Is What Democracy Looked Like / Tish Stringer 318

14. The Cultural Politics of Free Software and Technology within the Social Forum Process / Jeffrey S. Juris, Guiseppe Caruso, Stéphane Couture, and Lorenzo Mosca 342

Conclusion. The Possibilities, Limits, and Relevance of Engaged Ethnography / Jeffrey S. Juris and Alex Khasnabish 367

References 391

Contributors 423

Index 427
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5362-1 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5349-2
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