"The production of space and gender in cooperative peasant women communities in Camino, de Teuantepec, Oaxaca, Mexico (2000-2014). A decolonized approximation”
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Marisa Belausteguigoitia Rius (UNAM)
Analyze dis-colonial processes, building space and gender in the process of establishing the Comunidades Campesinas en Camino –Peasant Communities on the Road- cooperative
Emerging processes of gender construction in the community assembly through the emergence of woman as political subject will be analyzed.
Re-emergence of the female body in space construction of Comunidades Campesinas en Caminowill be analyzed as a process of space construction.
Commonality processes as well as woman’s action will be identified in forming fair-solidary cooperatives
Comunidades Campesinas en Camino is a native peasant cooperative that consolidated itself out of extreme poverty in which they lived. Several peasants of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca, decided to organize self-managed to leave behind the traditional dynamics of domination, exploitation, conflict and enjoyment of their life and their territory. It has been organized to guide the spatial transformation of their territory based on an “indigenous harmony”, among what is cultural, identity, political and social, employing as transversal axis of these social relations the care and defense of their territory. As a productive peasant cooperative, it seeks to eliminate wage exploitation of a peasant laborer by a market of fair and solidary trade.
Today, globally we face a patriarchal/colonial/modern/world rationality imposed through a historiographic account of progress since the conquest of America. In this context, social structures and systems (work, race/sex-gender, subjectivity and the society-nature relationship) intertwined in power relations appear colonized by an instrumental-utilitarian rationality that disembodied the person and nature and stripped life naked. These structures and systems remain in force and continue strengthening, despite their 500 years of gestation. Their main source of strength lies in the perpetuation of processes such as accumulation by dispossession, slave work, conquest of subjectivity, marginal pole, patriarchy and other contradictions of capitalist logic.
Alternatives to these processes of domination may be found in the approacheswith decolonizing answers, i.e., carrying out revisionist processes of history, epistemology and Western ontology to rethink the history of Latin America and resurgence of pre-colonial practices. These include forms of political organization through assemblies, social organization and their relations with Nature and the environment, and festivities, as well as relationships of community work. The decolonizing proposal is not a call to return to the indigenous world but to learn from their experience as a non-capitalist society and to be able to build an egalitarian, fair and solidary life proposal implying the re-embodiment of life through de-commodification, elimination of Cartesian dualisms that encompass racism and gender inequality, building localized knowledge, paying off the original debt built after the conquest and the separation of the native world, rethinking and de-thinking Western knowledge, decolonizing knowledge and being, studying and thinking community processes in the context of domination of the modern/colonial/patriarchal/world system by which to distinguish the antagonistic forces of community struggle, as well as thinking and rethinking modernity
A pattern of power that has been consolidated and reinforced with the hegemonic proposal of modernity has been the gender duality, which supports a patriarchal system where woman does not have the same opportunities of appearing in the different social structures. Beginning with a de-colonial analysis and attempting to propose transformations in space and more egalitarian gender social structures, it attempts to place the analysis in the feminizing processes and woman’s emergence as a political subject in the native meeting.
The native meeting, or assembly, is a forum for community discussion that transforms democracy into a real space of appearance. The person appearing before the assembly transfigures their space politically and culturally. The appearance of both genders, “female and male”, in making use of the word has gradually led to a feminization of the assembly: the participation of women in decision-making establishes itself as an act of performance that allows a largely egalitarian generic space; larger than in the spaces of representative democracy in modern Mexican societies, where negative feminine and gender meanings are constructed; where the woman, in most cases, appears only to cover a gender quota established in the Constitution and not as a voluntary act.
However, the emergence of woman as a political subject in community decision-making is not sufficient, since if we consider that space is also constructed through gender, then economic, social and cultural processes must be transformed and feminized. Comunidades Campesinas en Camino is a cooperative built through everyday native knowledge of peasants –female and male- in the region. Since their genesis, women decided to co-manage the cooperative’s monetary income and expenditures and held the same right as men to participate in the foundation and organization of the cooperative.
A singularity of Comunidades Campesinas en Camino is their way of organizing work, based on barter, reciprocity and work delivered, that in the limit with the capitalist-patriarchal rationality is transforming and reconstructing egalitarian social bonds, where women and men have the same rights and obligations when working the land and home and managing the cooperative. These forms of native organization are contrary to work relations in modern-colonial capitalist spaces, where gender constructs are unfavorable for women, and where there is a command-obedience relationship.
Without aiming at raising the utopia, I propose the analysis of an existing emancipatory community walk, not exempt of contradictions and also unable to dis-subjectivize itself of the patriarchal world but that in its daily walk, as a peasant native community incorporates the care of nature and creation of egalitarian spaces between man and woman. These are axes not considered in the colonial/modern/patriarchal world. Native world patriarchal forms have been resisted in particular forms whose analysis is strategic.
In sum, Comunidades Campesinas en Camino shines a light in our decolonizing walk, which considers space transformation in its different structures. It seeks a walk full of native community values, solidary and reciprocal among individuals; through dedicated work, communitarian participation of the political assembly and its feminization, the festivity and care of Nature.