The Chiapas Rebellion

The Struggle for Land and Democracy

The Chiapas Rebellion

Book Pages: 312 Illustrations: 5 b&w photographs, 11 maps, 11 tables Published: September 1998

Author: Neil Harvey

Latin American Studies > Mexico, Politics > Political Science, Sociology

In 1994 the Zapatista rebellion brought international attention to the southern Mexican state of Chiapas. Neil Harvey combines ten years of field work in Chiapas with extensive historical and political research to provide a comprehensive history of conflict in this region and a nuanced analysis of this rural uprising against federal bureaucracy and landed elites.
Beginning with an exploration of the history of ethnic and class conflict in Chiapas since the Conquest, Harvey moves specifically to trace the development of peasant and indigenous organizations in Chiapas since the early 1970s. He compares the struggles for agrarian rights of three grassroots movements facing hostility from both local elites and federal bureaucrats. His examination of the complexities of political change in Chiapas includes the impact of neoliberal economic policies, the origins of the Zapatista army of National Liberation (EZLN), and the political impact of the rebellion itself. Engaging with current theoretical debates on the role and significance of social movements in Mexico and Latin America, Harvey focuses on the primacy of political struggle and on the importance of these movements in the construction and meaning of citizenship. While suggesting that the Zapatista revolution has heightened awareness among the people of Chiapas of such democratic issues as ethnicity, gender, and land distribution, he concludes with an analysis of the obstacles to peace in the region today.
This unprecedented study of the Zapatista rebellion will provoke discussion among students and scholars of contemporary Mexico, political science, Latin American studies, history, sociology, and anthropology.


“Harvey’s study offers specific and broad perspectives on the ancient struggle for land and democracy on the fringe of Mexico’s political struggles. This valuable book deserves to be widely read.” — Thomas Schoonover, University of Southwestern Louisiana

“In Neil Harvey we are fortunate to have a guide to the growth of political consciousness and region-wide opposition organizations in rural Chiapas who began studying both almost a decade before the 1994 uprising. The Chiapas Rebellion is simply the best account in any language of what has been called ‘the steady accumulation in silence’ of forces leading up to the Zapatista movement.” — Jan Rus, Instituto de Asesoría Antropológica para la Región Maya

“No scholar has penetrated the peasant movements of southeastern Mexico like Neil Harvey. His remarkable access permitted careful, detailed, and fair reporting, description, and analysis.” — Thomas Benjamin, Central Michigan University


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Neil Harvey is Assistant Professor of Government at New Mexico State University, coeditor of Party Politics in an “Uncommon Democracy”: Political Parties and Elections in Mexico, and editor of Mexico: The Dilemmas of Transition.

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Winner, Reconocimiento Carlos Esteban Brasseur de Bourbourg

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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2238-2 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2209-2
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