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Mancina, P. Crisis-management: Tzeltal-Maya Transnational Migration and the Foucauldian Apparatus, Dialectical Anthropology 35(2): 205-225

This paper offers a Foucauldian analysis of Tzeltal-Maya transnational migration from Cañada Estrella, Ocosingo, Chiapas, to San Francisco, California, placing it within the context of North American neoliberalism. It asserts that Tzeltal-Maya
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  Crisis-management: Tzeltal-Maya transnationalmigration and the Foucauldian apparatus Peter Anthony Mancina Published online: 18 February 2011   Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011 Abstract  This paper offers a Foucauldian analysis of Tzeltal-Maya transnationalmigration from Can˜ada Estrella, Ocosingo, Chiapas, to San Francisco, California,placing it within the context of North American neoliberalism. It asserts that Tzeltal-Maya migrants,throughtheir creation ofnew transnationalsocialrelations,bringintoarticulation an informal neoliberal migration apparatus (a Foucauldian  dispositif) .This apparatus assembles and coordinates a variety of indigenous,  ladino , and gringostrategies, techniques, tactics, and technologies for dealing with and harnessing thecrises and opportunities presented by international capitalism. Such an apparatusfunctions in tandem and tension with neoliberal state apparatuses and produces atransnational neoliberal order in indigenous  ejidos . Further, this paper demonstratesthat this apparatus has allowed Tzeltal-Maya  ejidos  in the Lacandon Jungle greaterdegreesofautonomyfromtheMexicanmunicipal,state,andfederalgovernmentsandthelocalrancherelite,whilealsomakingthemincreasinglyinterdependentwithsmallbusinesses in the United States. Keywords  Mexican immigration    Tzeltal-Maya    Dispositif     Apparatus   Chiapas    San FranciscoCan˜ada Estrella, also known as the second valley of Ocosingo, is the northwestern-most micro-region in the larger geographic zone of the Lacandon Jungle of Chiapas,Mexico known as ‘‘Las Can˜adas of Ocosingo-Altamirano.’’ It is populated by anumber of Tzeltal-Maya 1 ‘‘ ejidos ’’—federally recognized, collectively administered P. A. Mancina ( & )Department of Anthropology, Vanderbilt University, 124 Garland Hall, Nashville, TN 37235, USAe-mail: 1 The Tzeltal-Maya compose one of the largest indigenous ethnic groups in Chiapas, Mexico,and live primarily in Chiapas’ central highlands and the eastern lowland Lacando´n Jungle.  1 3 Dialect Anthropol (2011) 35:205–225DOI 10.1007/s10624-011-9223-0  agricultural communities—that were founded by ex-servants or ‘‘ acasillados ’’ of the haciendas  of the region. Most people live from subsistence agriculture of beans,corn, and sometimes squash or chile peppers grown on two-hectare plots,  milpas ,which are maintained by hand without chemical pesticides or fertilizers. From thissmall plot, they produce for household consumption as well as for sale in the‘‘ tianguis ’’ Ocosingo city market. However, since the implementation of neoliberalpolicies following the 1982 peso crisis and then further with the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994, the commercialcompetitiveness of peasant agricultural production in Las Can˜adas has greatlydeteriorated (Rus et al. 2002). While most  ejidos  in Estrella lack adequatealternative employment opportunities, many peasants are left with few options toensure family economic reproduction. Those who have become tired of waiting forthe social and economic changes promised by the municipal, state, and federalgovernments, the independent peasant unions, and the Zapatistas have, since 2001,begun to migrate to the United States in search of ‘‘non-traditional’’ employment.Transnational migration would allow Tzeltal-Maya  ejidos  in Estrella a manner inwhich to supersede government clientelism and abandonment, and to foster greaterdegrees of family  and   community transnational interdependence with smallbusinesses in the United States.While this story of political economic crisis and the use of transnational migrationto manage it is all too familiar in Mexico, migration from Can˜ada Estrella has its ownidiosyncrasies. Unlike earlier waves of migration from Mexico, migration fromEstrella has not occurred in response to government infrastructural developmentprograms seeking to modernize the Mexican countryside. Rather, it has taken aninternational trade agreement-driven depreciation of agricultural prices and agovernmental denial of local infrastructural and economic development to present amassive crisis in which indigenous peasants would consider transnational migrationa solution to their problems. Government projects in the 1970s, which ‘‘modernized’’agricultural production on a mass scale throughout Mexico and that often led topeasant obsolescence, displacement, and transnational migration, merely provided ladino - owned  2 haciendas  in Estrella access to chemical fertilizers and herbicides.This stands in stark contrast to the government provision of industrial irrigationsystems and tractors to other parts of the country. During the mid-70s, the prices of labor-intensive crops such as coffee and corn, which were produced by hand on the haciendas  by unpaid or low-paid indigenous  acasillados , began to decrease, and theprice of cattle, a commodity requiring very little indigenous labor, increased.  Hacendados 3 responded by expelling their  acasillados  from the  hacienda , applyingchemical fertilizers and herbicides to their crops, and increasing their cattleproduction, which was already managed by  ladino  workers. As  acasillados  wereexpelled, they were absorbed into non-mechanized  ejidos  located on the vacantoutskirts of   hacienda  lands, on which they became independent peasant  milpa 2 The term  ladino  in Chiapas, Mexico was first used in the 16th century to indicate an individual whosemixed ethnicity would not allow for his categorization as a ‘Spaniard,’ a ‘black slave,’ or an ‘Indian.’Now it is used to refer to those that acknowledge some Spanish descent and denotes racial and socialsuperiority. 3 The term  hacendado  refers to the owner and authoritarian manager of a  hacienda. 206 P. A. Mancina  1 3  farmers who sold their produce in local, regional, and national markets (LegorettaDı´az 2008). The vast majority of agricultural production in Estrella, which wasconducted by indigenous peasants, was then manually  intensified  , rather thandiscarded, and supplemented by a variety of other economic activities, most notablysmall-scale, non-intensive peasant bovine production (Leyva Solano and AscencioFranco 1996). As a result, indigenous peasants in Can˜ada Estrella did not join thosefrom other parts of Chiapas who migrated to nearby cities 4 and other agriculturalregions of Mexico or those from other parts of the country who chose to migrate tothe United States when modern technologies replaced them. Instead, Tzeltals inEstrella chose to continue as peasant farmers and ranchers  working their own land byhand   until the early 21st century.Anthropologists since the 1980s have conceptualized the social organization of transnational migration in terms of circuits, communities, networks, and fields of power relations composed of intricately connected nodes or sites (Rouse 1991;Kearny and Nagengast 1989; Basch et al. 1994). Such circuits have been seen to form in response to the restructuring of global capitalism in a more or less spontaneous andunmediatedmanner,andthoughttopresentachallengetothehegemonyofthenation-statesinwhichtheywereembedded.Transnationalmigrantshavebeentreatedaspro-active agents who are able to pressure local and national governments to obtain agreater degree of civil rights, representation in the political arena, and access toresources (Fox and Rivera-Salgado 2004). However, the power to control the socialordersinwhichmigrantsfindthemselveshasbeenplacedprimarilyinthehandsofthecapitalist class and the state. Therefore, research on emergent systems of migrationgovernance has been limited to studies of state institutions and the formalizedtransnational migrant organizations that pressure them. Systems of informal 5 socialcontrol propelled by migrants themselves have needed greater attention.While I find these previous approaches to be very useful, a Foucauldian analyticalapproach allows us to further understand how  informal  systems of migrant socialcontrol take form through transnational migration. A Foucauldian approach allows usto explain how international capitalism and its crises are managed by high-positiongovernment officials that enact transnational political economic treaties  and   byTzeltal-Maya farmers, families, and communities who transnationally migrate  asneoliberal workers . A Foucauldian approach allows us to see how the social order of neoliberalism in Mexico is not only the product of state apparatuses, but also of  informal  apparatuses that indigenous people (re)produce through their daily creation, 4 Young Tzotzil Chamulas who had worked as seasonal migrants in the coffee plantations of Chiapas’Soconusco region were replaced by ‘‘modern’’ chemical fertilizers and herbicides in the mid-70s but didnot have the option to colonize or purchase new lands in the highlands to become independent farmersbecause land was so scarce. Some moved down into the Lacandon Jungle to colonize vacant lands alongwith the Tzeltals of Estrella, but most people moved to shanty-towns on the outskirts of the nearby citieslike San Cristo´bal de las Casas where they could earn a meager income as construction workers, flowervendors, and artisans. See Rus (1995). 5 By ‘‘informal’’ I mean to say that such systems are not located in state or corporate institutions, nor dothey have explicitly codified procedures for member conduct or a degree of accountability to the public(however, informal systems could transform into such formal systems). Nonetheless,  informal  systemsfunction in a relatively coordinated fashion and develop de facto forms of regimentation, which governthe lives of their subjects.Crisis-management: Tzeltal-Maya transnational migration 207  1 3  appropriation, and use of migrant behavioral repertoires. This approach was initiallydeveloped for the historical and philosophical analysis of power relations in whichforces (individuals and groups) aim to stabilize or destabilize specific relationships of dominance, subordination, and mutual assistance. In their encounters, individual andcollective subjects emerge from the use of a variety of tools and techniques, whichallowthemtomanipulatethebehavioroftheirpartnersandadversariesandtoachievedesired goals. These engagements exist in relation to others in broad fields of powerand come to be managed by adaptive regimes of governance that Michel Foucaulttermed ‘‘apparatuses’’ or ‘‘ dispositifs .’’ Foucault (1980) described the apparatus as … a thoroughly heterogeneous ensemble consisting of discourses, institutions,architectural forms, regulatory decisions, laws, administrative measures,scientific statements, philosophical, moral and philanthropic propositions—inshort, the said as much as the unsaid. Such are the elements of the apparatus.The apparatus itself is the system of relations that can be established betweenthese elements … there is a sort of interplay of shifts of position andmodifications of function, which can also vary very widely. …  a kind of formation which has as its major function at a given historicalmoment that of responding to an urgent need. The apparatus thus has adominant strategic function. This may have been, for example, the assimi-lation of a floating population found to be burdensome …… the nature of an apparatus is essentially strategic, which means that we arespeaking about a certain manipulation of relations of forces, of a rational andconcrete intervention in the relations of forces, either so as to develop them in aparticular direction, or to block them, to stabilize them, and to utilize them. Theapparatus is thus always inscribed into a play of power, but it is also alwayslinked to certain limits of knowledge that arise from it and, to an equal degree,condition it. The apparatus is precisely this: a set of strategies of the relations of forces supporting, and supported by, certain coordinates of knowledge. 6 The apparatus is  collectively  produced,  unintentionally coordinated,  and formedto control large-scale social crises that have inhibited the functioning of prior systemsof governance. It does this by producing, innovatively reusing, and strategicallyorderinginstitutions, technologies, techniques, and discourses to manage networks of interpersonal relations affected by such crises. Such elements serve to encourage,limit, and  capture  an agent’s normal, innovative and improvisational practices in hisor her interactions (Agamben 2009).Expanding upon Foucault’s notion of the apparatus, I add that it is the product of individuals and groups that in managing their own personal social problems,participate in the management of the large-scale crises that have created suchproblems. As subjects like Tzeltal-Maya migrants attempt to manage their problemswith others in new locations in a transnational field, the apparatus extends andadapts to manage those new encounters, incorporating their new interpersonalrelations into its field of governance and their innovative techniques, invented tools,strategies, and discourses into its functioning. In times of emergent crisis and 6 pp. 194–196.208 P. A. Mancina  1 3  expansion, the apparatus assimilates that which will safeguard it from a crisis’deconstructive powers and allow it to stabilize an emergent social order. Asindividuals innovatively create new technologies, techniques, discourses, andstrategies, those that contribute to the apparatus’ goals may become systematicallycoordinated; generalized; formalized as rules or methods; sanctified as proper,appropriate, reasonable, normal, efficient, or traditional; and reapplied in themanagement of larger segments of the apparatus’s field of power. In this manner,the apparatus facilitates the mass reproduction of particular forms of behavior andself-discipline, allowing (and in some cases forcing) subjects to coordinate theirbehavior with others. Individuals then can be taken as agents that are self- andapparatus-motivated and limited. At times, individuals may consciously takeadvantage of or use the apparatus for their own circumstantial and long-termpurposes and at other times are used or manipulated unknowingly by the apparatustoward ends of which they are unaware.The apparatus is an ensemble of technologies that specify, define, and createcertain subject types or groups, and then regulate, control, and distribute thosegroups (Agamben 2009). In this sense, an apparatus manages the production andobviation of certain forms of subjectivity that are then employed in a variety of rolesneeded for addressing multi-faceted crises in governance. Apparatuses produce anduse social distinction and categorization, piecing together, coordinating, andcontrolling new multiculturalisms. As a result, a focus on power and the apparatuspays close attention to emergent forms of affinity, antagonism, and inequalityamong partners in their engagements. Such an approach calls into questionassumptions that our  ladino  or gringo informants always play dominating roles inpower games or that our indigenous informants play subservient roles. In the presentstudy of transnational migration then, we are able to approach the lives of Tzeltal-Maya migrants from Las Can˜adas within an emergent apparatus as intricatelyconnected to other Tzeltals in Chiapas  and   to their United States employers.In this study, I engage conversations of Tzeltal-Maya transnational migration byframing them within a discourse of power and the apparatus. Transnational migrationcan be analyzed as a technique appropriated by an informal indigenous neoliberalapparatus in response to a set of neoliberal crises that have jeopardized Tzeltal-Mayapeasant governmentality. This apparatus assembles and coordinates a variety of indigenous,  ladino , and gringo strategies, techniques, tactics, and technologies fordealing with and harnessing the crises and opportunities presented by internationalcapitalism. Such an apparatus functions in tandem and tension with Mexicanneoliberal state apparatuses, and produces a  transnational  neoliberal order withinindigenous  ejidos . I argue here that North American neoliberalism is not merely asingle regime created, imposed, and controlled by ruling classes through policy andstate institutions (Martin 2005), but is a set of conflicting formal  and   informalapparatuses enacted by a variety of actors including indigenous peasants. While Ifocus on cultural change among migrants of one  ejido , San Antonio 7 my interest insuch change comes from the importance it has for reformulations of powerthroughout the region. 7 This place name and the names of all informants used in this article are pseudonyms.Crisis-management: Tzeltal-Maya transnational migration 209  1 3
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