Critique of Anthropology
Since the 1980s, neoliberal globalization fostered an upsurge of grassroots social movements in Latin America that sought alternatives to increasing poverty and social exclusion. Social movement scholars often interpret these movements as morally noble models of democracy given their claims to social justice and equity. My research examines the forced seizure of a closed Mexican sugar mill and establishment of a cooperative, worker-run factory by a grassroots movement whose cultural politics aimed at creating more democratic processes. Yet in 2009, after 11 years of success, movement leaders declared the mill bankrupt and shut it down. The façade of unity presented by activists obscured internal divisions and hierarchical control that beleaguered the movement. I argue that a more nuanced and critical analysis that takes into consideration the contradictions and paradoxes that may be present in grassroots struggles reframes essentialist conceptions regarding the intrinsic virtuosity of grassroots social movements.
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Chollett, Donna, ""Like an Ox Yoke": Challenging the Intrinsic Virtuosity of a Grassroots Social Movement" (2011). Anthropology Publications. 7.