September 14, 2011

Other Sovereignties

Subaltern populations achieve autonomy in many ways under globalization and the War on Terror. Their sites of autonomy rarely come to global public awareness, but when they do they are shaped by the terms under which they make sense to largely bourgeois, news-viewing and academic readers and viewers.  What other terms and logics might be useful for understanding subaltern autonomy?

September 6, 2011

Subaltern Democracies 2 Come

Democracy has multiple lineages beyond that of the European Enlightenment, lineages which include collective practices of accountability and ethics of indigenous groups and subalterns past and present. As globalization and the War on Terror spread their destruction across the globe, democratic collectivities have come under siege in many ways, and are responding with their survival at stake. Those in the global north may learn from these responses about forms of democracy that have much to teach the world about possible futures for democracy.

Subaltern ways of surviving under the War on Terror have gone virtually without mention in news reporting, despite the claim to protect rural and urban women and those with little formal education by the nations behind the World War Without End. Indigenous governance areas are at the center of the War on Terror, from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan to indigenous struggles over sovereignty in the Trans-Sahel region of North Africa. At the same time the claims to democratic governance in territory conquered by invasion, such as Hamid Karzai’s administration in Afghanistan, have only very tentative relations to full-fledged representative structures of classic European political analysis.

Indigenous group responses to globalization are often founded in democratic governance, like the Zapatistas in Mexico and the Karen of Thailand, the Republic of Lakotah in the United States and the Noongar in Australia. As a spokesperson for the Zapatista movement put it, “Collective work, democratic thinking, and subjection to the decisions of the majority are more than just traditions in indigenous zones. They have been the only means of survival, resistance, dignity, and defiance.” Yet their democratic practices may take forms that our European-derived notions of democracy would not recognize as legitimate or useful; rethinking the limits and politics of that recognition is one main goal of this blog.

At Democracies 2 Come we take seriously the possibility that subalterns living under the War on Terror and globalization may have something to contribute to the global understanding of democracy and freedom, dignity and justice. By taking them seriously as agents capable of intelligent analyses and democratically organized constructive responses to the War on Terror and globalization, we may move beyond seeing them only in terms of the status of victims needing rescue by foreign nations, multinational organizations like the IMF and the United Nations, micro-lending development schemes, and NGOs. Rural women and men with little schooling have much to say about economics and the War and its democratic claims in its many, many conflict zones, from Afghanistan to Yemen and regions beyond centralized national control.