I’ve been taken to task for not updating recently.

I plan to do so soon. But in the meantime, I should point out that I’ve been busy over at my other blog, recently renamed Projections. Visits and comments there are more than welcome. It now constitutes quite an archive of movies that deal with Latin America in some way. Suggestions for further viewings would be very welcome.

And I’d be particularly interested in any thoughts or responses to my essay on the idea of cinema.


A pointer to a new(ish) blog: Left Turns? Progressive Parties, Insurgent Movements, and Alternative Policies in Latin America. It’s an investigation into the so-called “turn to the Left” in Latin America, from Chávez in 1998 and on through Kirchner in Argentina or Bachelet in Chile to, most recently, Lula’s re-election in Brazil and the prospect Ortega might return to the presidency in Nicaragua.

The blog is one element in a broader project, with which I’m involved in collaboration with (among others) Max Cameron, Eric Hershberg, and Andy Hira. For more on that project, see our conference proposal.

As is probably too obvious, I’m more or less responsible for the “insurgent movements” element. I had to sneak “insurgency” in somehow. Here’s how we describe that section:

From Venezuela’s Caracazo of 1989 to Mexico’s Zapatista campaign from 1994, and from the Argentine protests of December 2001 to the Bolivian protests that came to a head in October 2004, a multitude of new movements have emerged, often marginal or even actively opposed to traditional organizations such as unions or NGOs. Some of these spectacular displays of popular protest quickly disappeared. Others created the conditions for the electoral successes of a new breed of leaders. Each has often appeared spontaneous and surprising, generating new strategies of protest and grassroots self-organization or appropriating old tactics in new ways. We will ask how far left-leaning governments are expressions of such social insurgencies, whether they translate movement demands and desires into action, or whether rather they function as reactive pressure valves: venting steam, but little else. In other words, as well as examining the differences between left parties and movements across national and cultural borders, it is also necessary to examine the tensions between social movements and the electoral campaigns that claim to be their vehicles.

The “multitude” is also smuggled in there; again perhaps too obviously, I’m interested in seeing how much this so-called “left turn” fits with the framework that poses constituent against constituted power.

More is to come, including some cross-posted entries from here to there and vice versa.


birthday cakeToday this blog is a year old.

Over the past twelve months, there have been 217 posts, including two fine guest posts, courtesy of Jeremy Lane.

Posthegemony has received more than 25,000 visits, which over the past few months has meant around 100 a day, with visitors from Argentina to Zambia, and many places in between.

(And I know there are plenty of more frequented blogs around; but surprisingly Technorati suggests that not only should this be your first port of call for all things Deleuze, Bourdieu, and Negri, as well as affect, habit, and multitude, plus of course both hegemony and posthegemony; it’s also the number one place for cultural theory and social theory and a remarkably good resource for cultural studies and Latin America. For what that’s worth.)

Many thanks to everyone who has stopped by, and especially to those who have commented, offered encouragement, and generated a series of interesting and productive conversations.

Ycuá Bolaños

Posting is hereby resumed…

One of the most interesting (and also moving) experiences of the past two weeks was to visit the site of the Ycuá Bolaños tragedy in Asunción.

Ycua Bolanos fireFrom Paraguay, ABC Digital has a page on “La tragedia de Ycuá Bolaños”, with links to many articles on the case and recent updates. There’s also “La investigación de Ycuá Bolaños”, a site with pieces that are more reflective or critical. And here is the BBC report immediately following the incident.

In short, however, on August 1st 2004 a fire gutted a huge supermarket in suburban Asunción. The fire started thanks to design flaws (a chimney that couldn’t be cleaned), and was aggravated by inattention to building codes. But it became a disaster in which over 400 people died when the supermarket owner ordered the doors locked so that shoppers wouldn’t rob the store of its produce en route to escaping with their lives.

Almost two years later, though the owner is in custody, he is due to be released if the Paraguayan judicial system doesn’t come up with at least a provisional verdict (a “juicio oral”) that assigns some culpability for the blaze and for the ensuing deaths.

The ruin itself is still remarkably intact: you can see the check-out counters, the shelving, piles of half-incinerated toothpaste tubes or bags of flour, half-melted crates of coke and so on. To one side, families of victims have constructed a kind of sanctuary, full of shrines to their deceased relatives. And though (because?) these shrines are decorated in typically kitsch Latin American style–fairy lights, plastic figurines of angels, and so on–the place is incredibly moving.

Relatives come by the sanctuary, to comb once more through the wreckage, to meet up with other victims, to hang out, to talk, to plan their next demonstration against an incredibly corrupt and inefficient judiciary.

Different movements have sprung up in the wake of the disaster, some more militant than others. The most radical is the Collective “Ni olvido ni perdón” (“No forgetting, and no forgiveness”). I talked for some time with a very articulate–and justifiably enraged–member of this group. But even for the more moderate elements of the movement, the attempt to win justice has become a fully-fledged battle against the state.

Many of these groups’ slogans (such as “Nunca más” or “Never again”) are taken directly from the movements that struggled against the Southern Cone dictatorships of the 1970s and 1980s. Moreover, the Paraguayans now have links and contacts with organizations such as Argentina’s Mothers of the Disappeared.

So what’s interesting is that some time after one of the longest dictatorships in Latin American history (Stroessner’s 36 years in which the country was his personal fiefdom), and as a result of an incident in which capital, the state, and the law directly coincide, something in Paraguay may finally be awakening.

Agosto en llamas


[A service announcement…]

Posting has been a little sporadic here of late. And it is likely to be even more so over the next month, as I am away for most of June.

Thanks to an invitation from Craig, I’ll be presenting on (yes) “Pirate Studies” at the so-called “Learneds” in Toronto next week.

War of the Triple Alliance, ParaguayThen almost immediately I’ll be off to Buenos Aires and Asunción.

And though I hope to write something about Schmitt in that time, and perhaps some reports on the state of things in Argentina and Paraguay, these bulletins may well be brief at best.

Normal service will be resumed around the end of the month.

[Here ends the service announcement.]


[Customary apologies for meta-blogging…]

This blog has been nominated for an award. Not that it is the only blog to be so nominated: it is among 300 up for a “Koufax Award” in the category “most deserving of wider recognition”.

Which is, itself, a form of recognition. And what’s not to like about that?

Most of the 300 are very much focussed on the US political and foreign policy news agenda. But among other notable blogs on the list for this category are: the excellent 3 Quarks Daily; Jodi Dean’s I cite; the pugnacious Lenin’s Tomb; the “theory” group blog with which I am involved, Long Sunday; one of the better political blogs, Opinions You Should Have; and then how could I not mention We move to Canada?