The Inconvenience of Revolution: Zapatismo, Cynicism and Memory

  • Christian Kroll-Bryce Reed College
Keywords Zapatismo, Cynicism, memory, Subcomandante Marcos, revolution


In this article, I analyse the Zapatistas’ political practices and literary discourse in order to discuss two features of Zapatismo that have largely been overlooked yet I believe were fundamental for its ability to cross national boundaries and influence oppositional practices, social movements and revolutionary activity in the last two decades. The first feature is what I will call the Zapatistas’ fecund, living memory, that is, the place-specific memory that derives from everyday experience and learning, and therefore cannot be systematized and applied universally. If this first aspect is intrinsic to the Zapatista experience itself, the second feature is more related to how the Zapatistas’ discourse and political practices were read outside the indigenous communities in which Zapatismo originated, namely, as following in the footsteps of the long and marginalized tradition of Cynicism and courageous truth telling. I argue that the combination of these two features—one intrinsic and particular, the other extrinsic and universalizable—enabled others to partake in the political truth of Zapatismo by partaking in a common spirit of resistance that nonetheless resists the impulse to extract universal principles from particular experiences and therefore acknowledges the need to reject ready-made recipes for revolution and other oppositional practices.

Author Biography

Christian Kroll-Bryce, Reed College
Assistant Professor of Spanish and Humanities
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