Sunday, July 28, 2013

Embodiment, poverty and politics: the shape of power

Just  quick and facile observation about the politics of resistance: as I sat in the back of a large room in the municipal building of San Miguel nearly two weeks ago, watching the interaction between the residents of a community called 7 Platos, who had blockaded the highway to the mine for a couple of weeks to protest the mining company's non-compliance with mandated remedial measures, representatives of the municipal government including the mayor, representatives of the company, and representatives of a national agency called INFOM, it struck me that there was a physical difference between the people behind the table and the people in front of it, between the authorities and those over whom they apparently exercise authority. Most of the community residents, poor peasant farmers who spend their days doing hard physical labor, were small statured, and many were thin. I saw very few protruding bellies -- yes, some of the older men had little potbellies, but there was no one whom I could call fat. Most had lined faces, some looking quite a bit older than their years -- faces worn by poverty, and weather-beaten. In the front of the room, the faces were less lined, and the bodies rounder; a few were fairly chubby, even corpulent. One member of the mayor's council (I'm not sure what his title was) had very expensive-looking and extremely pointy-toed light colored cowboy boots; they reminded of the exaggeratedly elongated boots worn by the Finnish rock band Leningrad Cowboys. The same man represented the city government at the rally today, wearing the same boots, and again the physical contrast between those in the resistance and those in power.

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