A Poetics of Resistance: The Revolutionary Public Relations of the Zapatista Insurgency


"Conant has an ear for story, poetry, and wonder; his new telling of the Zapatista struggle is full of delights." —Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved

"Conant's engrossing book distills critical lessons about the Zapatistas' use of storytelling, spectacle and truly revolutionary marketing. Whether you're already deeply immersed in Zapatismo or new to this profoundly important social movement, A Poetics of Resistance is essential reading." —Patrick Reinsborough, cofounder of smartMeme

"Ivan Illich once said: 'Through arguments you can only come to conclusions. Only stories make sense.' Near the end of his life, Ivan also said that only a poetic language can express today what we need to say. Considering the current challenges and risks, a fresh, poetic look at the Zapatistas, to clear our vision, is badly needed. This is a useful book for those looking for sense in these dark times." —Gustavo Esteva, founder of Universidad de la Tierra in Oaxaca, Mexico

The Zapatistas' famous "Ya basta!"—enough already!—was the first uttering of a new story: a story about unbinding the ties of official history, uncovering buried seeds of popular resistance, and revealing the glimmerings of a truly insurgent modernity. Combining narrative history, literary criticism, ethnography, and media analysis, A Poetics of Resistance provides a refreshing take on Mexico's Zapatista movement by examining the means, meanings, and mythos behind the Zapatista image.

The first "postmodern revolution" presented itself to the world through a complex web of propaganda in every available medium: the colorful communiqués of Subcomandante Marcos, the ski masks, uniforms, dolls, murals, songs, and weapons both symbolic and real. By proliferating a profound and resonant set of myths, symbols, and grand historical gestures calculated to reflect their ideologies, organizing methodologies, and cultural values, the Zapatistas helped set into motion a global uprising, and the awareness that behind this uprising is a renewed vision of history. Jeff Conant's engaging and innovative examination of the Zapatistas' communication strategies will be an important tool for movements everywhere engaged in creating a world where many worlds fit; in demolishing History in order to construct histories; and in unseating not only the powerful, but Power itself.

Jeff Conant is a writer and activist in the San Francisco Bay Area and the author of A Community Guide to Environmental Health.

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