Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor, Politics, Whitman College

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 1999
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Geography, University of California / Berkeley
Rethinking Thuggery: Landed Elites and Agrarian Violence in Chiapas, Mexico

This project will explain why powerful cattle and coffee producers use, or refrain from using, violence against peasant land invaders in Chiapas, Mexico. Based on the researcher's pre-dissertation fieldwork, the proposed project will examine the interaction of three factors that condition landed elites' recourse to violence: 1) the rise and fall of landed elites' economic power, 2) changing political support for landed elites' use of violence, and 3) landed elites' complicated and sometimes contradictory cultural understandings of violence. The research revolves around two case studies of landed elites' responses to a massive wave of land invasions ignited by the 1994 Zapatista uprising. Previous periods of rural unrest in the 1970s and 1980s are also analyzed in order to rethink the history of agrarian violence in Chiapas. Research methods will include interviews with all landed elites affected by 1994 land invasions in two municipalities (Chilon and Salto de Agua) and an extensive survey of economic production. This project investigates a key set of actors in the Chiapas conflict about whom almost nothing is known, and makes important contributions to research on the anthropology of violence, the changing nature of the Mexican state, and the effects of economic restructuring on the Mexican countryside.