Why the Virgin of Zapopan Went to Los Angeles:
Reflections on Mobility and Globality
Every October in Guadalajara, Mexico, a city of around 4 million in the western state of Jalisco, and the second largest city in Mexico, close to two million people converge on the city center to accompany the Virgin of Zapopan on her annual journey from the cathedral of Guadalajara to her home in the basilica of Zapopan, 8 kilometers away.* For a good nine hours, following a pre-dawn mass, a river of people moves steadily up the long avenue accompanied by the drums, flutes and metal clogs of over two hundred teams of young danzantes from pueblos and barrios throughout the region, costumed in images of Indians - they have practiced their routines for months. Near the end of the procession comes the virgin herself, a rather plain-looking, doll-like figure about a foot high in large glass case atop a flower festooned car. It must be a new - virgin-car, one whose engine has never been started (!). It is pulled along by ropes held by hundreds of her devotees, and an official guard dressed in Spanish colonial costumes. Behind her come huge castle-like birdcages full of songbirds to entertain her as she makes the journey. After the Virgin of Guadalupe, she is the most powerful virgin in Mexico. She is 450 years old, and she has her own website.
The Virgin of Zapopan came into being in the 1530s during the process of evangelization of the local indigenous population, merging, according to some accounts, with a local deity named Tepozintl, whose shrine she took over. She began developing divine powers, especially around matters concerning water - floods, droughts -- and later around disasters of all sorts. In 1653 the church officially declared her milagrosa, capable of miracles, raising her credibility with the non-indigenous population - Spaniards, mestizos, criollos. By the 1730s, when she was nearing 200, the demands on her powers had become so great, especially in the neighboring the city of Guadalajara, that she created a second version of herself called la peregrina, the pilgrim. La peregrina's job was, and still is, to move around. She spends the rainy season rotating among the 172 parishes of Guadalajara helping to prevent flooding, a constant problem in its lowland location. She also supports the ecological movement trying to save the rapidly shrinking Lake Chapala -familiar to readers of Lawrence's The Plumed Serpent. Processions and fiestas accompany her from parish to parish, where hosting her is an honor and a serious obligation.
So since 1734 there have been two of her, la original who remains at home in Zapopopan and la peregrina, who travels. These practices distinguish the Virgin of Zapopan from most other virgins, whose practice is not to travel themselves, but to appear as images in secular spaces like the walls of a house or the trunk of a tree. (Mexican anthropologist Renée de la Torre reports that in recent months these appearances have begun occurring in transitional spaces, or what she calls non-places such as freeway underpasses and airports.) The mutations of the Virgen de Zapopan trace the regional consolidation that from the 1500s led toward Mexico's self-definition as a rural-based pluri-ethnic nation-state with strong regional cultures.
I invoke the Virgin of Zapopan not for divine protection ( though I wouldn't say no) but because she subsumes several of the themes I propose to take up in these pages-mobility, modernity and citizenship as they play themselves out in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. I join those who are reflecting on what is being called globality by thinking through mobility. Particularly intriguing in this respect is the Virgen de Zapopan's strategy of self-duplication- desdoblamiento in Spanish - which enables her to be in more than one place at once, and to both go and stay at the same time. Though she exists in statue form, this ability to move and self-multiply makes her a kind of anti-monument, a genuine roving signifier-which may be why, though no icon could be more profoundly and complexly Mexican, the Virgin of Zapopan has never been incorporated into Mexico's official iconography or patrimony. She is part of local, popular religiosity and for many generations has been repressed or unwillingly tolerated by the official church. My title promises that we will get the Virgin of Zapopan to Los Angeles, and so we will. But I propose to get there, thinking through mobility, by considering some of the ways unofficial or vernacular imaginaries render processes that official parlance subsumes as globalization.
Thinking through mobility
One of the things that has made people want to call the world "post-modern" -and post almost everything else--are vastly altered patterns and scale of human mobility, two of its most conspicuous forms being mass labor migration and mass tourism. The latter is now the largest industry in the world after the drug trade. The former has produced, among other things, a reversal of modernity's diffusion from center outwards - large scale movement of ex-colonial subjects into the metropoles. In the U.S. today one person in 10 was born in another country, and another one in 10 have a parent who was. In California half the children entering school speak languages other than English (a fact stupidly viewed as handicap rather than a huge national resource). There are 75,000 Russians in Sacramento. Every city in Europe and North America has sizeable diasporic communities from several parts of the globe, often from the country's ex-colonies, and these have impacted every aspect of institutional and everyday life. Fifteen percent of the population of Guyana lives in New York City, half of Surinam is in the Netherlands.
The metropole is a self-interested host to this reversed diaspora, but not necessarily a hospitable one. As a scholar of travel literature, it was fascinating for me in the 1990s to find that the dramatic tales of suffering and survival, monsters and marvels, which 300 years ago came back to Europe from faraway shores. Towards the end of the 90s they began to reappear daily at the metropole's own borders. The last shipwreck story I heard, for example, was of the 900 Kurds who ran aground not in Tierra del Fuego but in Southern France. Today's stowaway stories tell of not of European boys hiding under decks heading for the South Seas, but of African boys and young men found usually frozen to death in the wheel casings of jets landing in European airports (for a telling analysis see Ferguson 2001), or Eastern European families clinging under trains in the chunnel. The castaway tale was revived in the story of Elián González, washed up on the shores not of Tahiti, but of Florida. It was not Polynesians but Floridians - Republicans! -- who decided he was a reincarnation of the Baby Jesus and had been helped ashore by dolphins. Today's outlaws and pirates are the coyotes or polleros cruising borders all over the planet. Death and rescue tales are back, reaching us not from the Sahara but from the Arizona desert, like the story in summer 2000 of the baby miraculously rescued from the arms of its dead mother, a young Salvadoreña trying to cross into the United States. It was not passing Bedouins who saved the baby but the Border Patrol, whose usual role is hunting down such people. Captivity narratives surface today in Beverley Hills where domestic workers from Asia tell of indentured servitude and forced confinement, or from sweatshops and brothels in San Francisco and New York. The suffocating nightmare of the slave ship resurged in 1999 in the port of San Francisco where 18 Chinese laborers emerged mad with suffering from a cargo container in the depths of a freighter where seven companions had died. The following spring England was shaken by the story of 43 other Chinese men who perished from carbon monoxide poisoning in the back of a truck smuggling them in from the Netherlands. A few weeks later it was on the banks of the Rio Bravo not the Niger or the Amazon, that frantic crowds on a riverbank watched two people drown trying to swim to Texas. The drama was broadcast live on television, as it might have been read aloud in a town square in 1620. In April 2001, reports of white on black lynchings reappeared, not from the annals of the Old South, but from ultra-modern Southern Spain. At the same time U.S. newspapers waxed smug about the "rescue" of the "Lost Boys of Sudan," some 12,000 orphaned Dinka survivors of the civil war in Sudan, a handful of whom were brought from refugee camps to communities in the United States where, it was obvious, they were going to be no less lost. The echoes were of Voltaire's L'Iroquois, or Pocahontas in London, the label borrowed from Peter Pan.1 The boys were indeed rescued from slavery, discovered to have made a comeback in parts of Africa due to falling commodity prices and the collapse of traditional agriculture. In Abidjan, the London Daily Telegraph reported, girls cost five pounds. The reporter deemed it a "spectacle from the 19th century." In turn abolitionism has dusted itself off and come down from the shelf. In fall of 2001 Europe discovered itself host to thousands of captive female sex slaves, many of them Russian and East European. Albanians, it turned out, had been selling their young women to Western Europe in droves. Trafficking in people is probably a bigger industry now than it was in the time of the slave trade - though the two are not the same thing.2
In the 90s the metropole's borders became theaters, and as with the death and survival literature of the past, the dramas appearing in our newspapers every day are doing the work of staging the new planetary order, a newly mutating imperial order, creating its subjects, creating us as its subjects (as I too am doing in this essay). In one important way, this contemporary recycling of the 17th and 18th century travel archive turns the old one inside out, for its prevailing focus is not the living but the dead. The earlier genres - captivity tales, shipwrecks, castaways and the like -were usually produced by the survivors themselves, those who, providentially (a key term), lived to tell the tale. By definition there was always a happy ending that affirmed the viability of an emergent metropolitan global, and often imperial, subject. Today's recyclings are chiefly about nonsurvivors. Driven by a different desire, these stories perform dramas not of departure and return, but of denial and exclusion. Now, and how well we know it after September 11, it seems to be death dramas that grip and resonate, though many success stories could be told.3 In a key of pain and guilt, does the metropole in this literature contemplate itself as a kind of fortress sustained by violent exclusion and assailed by desperate people no less deserving than ourselves? Is it displaying to itself its intensifying legitimation crisis? Or is the effect rather to remind those on the inside of the fortress how lucky they are and how deeply the world is divided between "us" and "them"? Either way, the dramas of death and despair enact an alternative register to the dehumanized economist narratives of globalization that occupy the news and business pages. They underwrote the sense of hubris that seemed to lie just behind the shock and disbelief at the attack on the fortress September 11. Part of the shock was the familiarity of the scene, already imagined multiply by Hollywood.
Late 20th century mobility has been driven by processes of decolonization set in motion after World War II, but also by imperatives and possibilities created by technological advance, the communications revolution, and above all the new and ruthless phase of empire, neoliberalism or late capitalism if one prefers, that we are now living. This was not as obvious in the early 90s as it was at the end. In the early 90's the academic talk on globalization had an outright utopian character among scholars across the ideological spectrum. In one early anthology (Featherstone 1990) the authors spoke of a new "cosmopolitan ideal" of a "dream of a secular ecumene," "the crystallization of the entire world as a single place" and the "emergence of a global human condition" (Robertson); a "world culture" that is an "organization of diversity" (Hannerz). "Humankind," said Ulf Hannerz in that heady moment, "has finally bid farewell to the world which could with some credibility be seen as a cultural mosaic". Today it is hard not to hear in these joyous phrases a revised, and ever innocent, imperial narrative, and a failure on the part of metropolitan scholars to seek correctives to the inevitable blindness of privilege. (The acerbic John Kenneth Galbraith was clearer: "Globalization," he said, "is not a serious concept. We North Americans invented it to disguise our program of economic intervention in other countries.")
Early on, the metropolitan discourse of globalization established its preferred metaphor, a metaphor of mobility, and innocence, that is still very much with us. The metaphor is flow. The image is of a planet traversed by continuous, multidirectional, commensurate flows of people, goods, money, information, languages, ideas, arts, images. If one is in the "local" the idea is to find ways to tap into the flow, through an assembly plant, say, or a cash crop, a tourist attraction, a workforce sent abroad, or by a satellite dish, a boom box, a downloaded CD. But, thinking through mobility, the asphyxiated Chinese workers were not flowing in the back of the truck. The Rio Bravo was flowing but not the young men who drowned trying to cross it. As the work of Teresa Caldeira (2001) reminds us, the wealthy do not flow either.. At home they retreat increasingly behind the walls of gated, guarded communities; abroad they are walled up in resort enclaves designed to give the illusion of place. (Even the Pope, in a statement issued on International Tourism day in 2001, condemned the proliferation of affluent resorts cut off from the societies around them (NY Times 6/20/2001).) Thinking through mobility, it is perhaps worth spelling out more analytically some of the confusions and evasions that follow from the flow metaphor, if only because that metaphor is surely worth preserving for some purposes:
1. The flow metaphor doesn't distinguish one kind of movement from another -- the movement say of domestic laborers from the Philippines to the Middle East from the movement of sex tourists from Europe or Japan to Thailand or Cuba. Tourists, as tourists, must return to their countries of origin, while transplanted workers often must not because home depends on their earnings. (The Philippines is one of a number of countries, including most of Central America, in which remittances from workers abroad are the chief source of external revenue.)
2. "Flow" bypasses the question of directionality. "Dallas" is seen in South Africa but South Africa's fascinating multiracial, mutilingual soap operas do not reach North America, to its loss. Half of Mexico's hydroelectric power flows out of Chiapas, where much of the resident population has no electricity. Money, I'm told now changes hands 100 times more often than goods do, but that flow in the end also has a direction. In early 2001 Kofi Anan announced that when all forms of exchange were taken into account, there was a net "flow" the previous year of $450 billion from the poor countries to the rich ones, three quarters of it to the US. (To put this into perspective, the entire U.S. foreign aid budget in 2000 was a paltry $22 billion, a fraction of what Argentina alone paid the U.S. in debt servicing. Debt service payments to rich countries hve lately been taking up fully half of Ecuador's national budget - hence the outward "flow" of 4% of Ecuador's population in 2 years.)
3. "Flow" naturalizes. It makes it easy to ignore the state policies, transnational arrangements, and structured institutions that create these possibilities and impossibilities of movement -- notably our legitimate villains, the World Bank and IMF, but also the kleptocratic national business classes empowered in the name of the free market. The spread of Hollywood films across the planet is not a natural dispersion of culture. It is a business proposition aimed, as a business matter, at stamping out national cinemas, and authorized by trade deals imposed by rich countries on poor ones. The result so far has been that cinema has shrunk. Fewer films are being made and distributed, many fewer people in the world have access to cinema at all, because local moviehouses have disappeared. So much for the new ecumene.
4. "Flow" obliterates human agency and intentionality - it's an intransitive verb. This is very handy. To depict money as flowing obscures the fact that it is sent and received. People who "flow" are people who have decided to go or return, who have been sent or sent for by others as part of a considered strategy. By eliminating agency, flow takes the existential dimensions of human movement off the table, from excruciating choices forced upon people to the emancipatory possibilities to which mobility gives rise. .
5. Flow perversely suggests a natural, gravity-driven process which will automatically reach a tranquil horizontal equilibrium -so the market is imagined as a leveler, as inherently democratizing. But, as critique of the late 90s underscored, the world of unfettered neoliberalism seems to have no gravity. Its forces have proven to be resolutely vertical, and top and bottom seem to recede before our eyes as wealth concentrates in some places and immiseration proliferates in others. Workers in Mexico today have one seventh the earning power they had in 1970, and their wages are half what they were in 1980. At least a third of the population has virtually nothing at all; people are shorter on average than they were 30 years ago. And Mexico is a rich poor country. But the rich, rich countries have experienced the verticalization too. We hear it over and over: the bottom 40% of U.S. households now control 0.2% of the national wealth while the top 10% controls 71%. This verticality needed to be acted upon, and on September 11, it was.
"Flow" exemplifies the official, legitimating language of globalization. It is not a value neutral term, but a postively valenced term (contrast 'drain') used detached from any ethical dimension. Language with no top or bottom, as when doubled working hours, child labor, reduced food intake, infanticide or (as recommended by the Oregon Welfare Department) scavenging dumps and dumpsters become "coping strategies" (see De la Rocha, 2000). Or when and any form or degree of jobless immiseration is called the "informal economy." Or when any interaction, can be described as an "exchange" regardless of how asymmetrical, unequal or forced it might be. It is surely the task of humanists to denounce such language, to insist on an ecology of public discourse and an ethical component in policy talk. If not us, then who?
In imaginative literature, at least the recent Latin American fiction I have been reading, this newly predatory world is being expressed precisely by the opposite of flow, in narratives of isolated survivors trying to create meaningful spheres of action in claustrophobic indoor spaces to which they have withdrawn from a social world that has become a holocaust, or in terms of violent delinquency, in which the absence of a livable future means nobody has anything to lose.5 In vernacular culture it is registered the way it was in predatory stages of earlier empire, by the appearance of monsters. In the 1980s, for example, the diaspora into the US that was underway did not turn up directly in the national imaginary. It registered indirectly, in the drama of the killer bees. These were a species of bee transported from Africa to Brazil as part of a breeding project. The bees acquired their killer label when they turned out to be much more aggressive than the resident species. As the bees began to spread throughout the Americas, their spread was interpreted from the U.S. as a relentless northward march toward the Mexican border. In the 1980s, as the country moved into the largest wave of immigration in its history, the approach of the bees became a national obsession. Year after year the country told itself the bees were about to arrive. Attempts were made to create a pesticide barrier at the border. Scientists working on the Star Wars missile project invented a tiny chip that could be installed in the back of a killer bee to track its whereabouts. Suspected swarms were hunted down and destroyed, to no avail .6
In the mid 90s, in the wake of NAFTA, Mexico and the Caribbean witnessed the appearance of the chupacabras or "goatsucker." This was a large winged, batlike creature about four feet tall that came out at night and attacked the corrals of goats that exist throughout rural regions of Mexico. Humans and other domestic animals were also vulnerable. Newspapers published pictures of corrals strewn with goat corpses and women with neckwounds; drawings of the creature appeared first in the papers and then on t-shirts; the inevitable corridos turned up, and the chupacabras made a few cameo appearances on the X-Files. A friend in Mexico City stopped going out on his patio at night. The goat-sucker's origins, so the story unfolded, were in a secret laboratory on a U.S. military base in Puerto Rico where the creature was produced by a failed genetic engineering experiment. The chupacabras seemed to comment richly on the assault on rural and agricultural life signified by the 1994 NAFTA agreement. Collective landholdings (ejidos) were privatized. Subsistence agriculture was told to disappear; goats and corn should be replaced by kiwi fruit or snow peas. Peasants were under enormous pressure to use genetically altered crop strains to compete, and even then it was obvious that U.S. agribusiness was going to suck the blood out of small-scale Mexican farming. Why goats? The monster targeted the non-commodified relations between people and their animals that are at the heart of rural life. (In rural Mexico goat - birria-is the standard ritual food at weddings, the locus of social reproduction.) By spring of 2001, the chupacabras looked prophetic of the wholesale holocaust of farm animals underway in Britain in response to a foot and mouth epidemic caused by the profit-driven transporting of livestock by transnational agribusiness. As with the killer bees, it seems the monster myth got there first.
In rural Peru and Bolivia, the neoliberal era was marked by a resurgence of the pishtako. This was a monster who first appeared among indigenous Andeans in the 16th century, out of the violence of the Spanish invasion. The pishtako put people to sleep with magical powders, and then sucked the fat out of their bodies so that they wasted away. Not surprisingly the pishtako was sometimes envisioned wearing a sackcloth tunic reminiscent of Spanish friars. In the late 1980s, while the killer bees pressed forth their northward invasion, the pishtako made a series of appearances in the Andes in response to the depredations of neoliberalism (Wachtel 1994). This time it was seeking human fat for export to the U.S. to lubricate machines - cars, planes, computers. Traffickers were also understood to be selling human flesh to fancy restaurants in Lima. Anthropologists reported a widespread panic in 1987 when a story circulated that an army of five thousand pishtakos wearing lab coats had been sent to Ayacucho province in Peru to collect human fat to be sold to pay off the national debt. Andeans were not out of the loop. The image captured with impressive exactitude the nature of the forces bearing down upon them. Readers tempted to think of the pishtako in overly mythical terms, might want to ponder its relation to the metropolitan practice of liposuction. (Could American fat be sold to pay off Peru's debt? No, because American fat IS Peru's debt, the ripped off resources converted into cheap food and northern hyperconsumption.)7
Around the same time the pishtako was abroad in the Andes, in neighborhoods of Lima rumors spread about the sacaojos ('ojos'=eyes), predators who kidnapped children to steal their eyes for export, returning them blind. This was just one of a huge range of stories of organ theft which since the 1980s have become powerfully meaningful in places where the integrity and continuity of communities and identities have been threatened. By the mid '90s these stories had become widespread enough that the United States Information Agency set up a website to disclaim them. The most common seems to be the tale of the stolen kidney. In its most common version, a man in a bar is seduced by an attractive woman with whom he goes to a hotel, awaking next day to find he has been drugged and one of his kidneys removed for sale in Europe or the United States. The story has many variants, but its frequency and distribution has been astonishing. Again from a place of fear and vulnerability the story registers the permutations of the global order quite precisely, particularly new forms of industrial production which assemble things out of parts made anywhere in the world. Third world bodies become manufacturers of parts to be exported and inserted into sick but wealthy first world bodies. Communities are fragmented -- pieces of themselves have had to be sold abroad and are lodged in the belly of the beast. American versions of the story, which have spread among truckers, for example, likewise seem to register newly unprotected bodies/identities. Are these the realities that have given rise recently to the term"posthuman"?
A "legitimate" international market in organs does exist (is it legitimate for a poor person to finance a child's education by selling a kidney?) But this is only part of the reason the organ theft story has such reach in the world today. Its resonance is also psychic and symbolic. In spring of 2000 in an old Guatemalan town popular as a tourist stop, a busload of Japanese tourists was violently attacked by townspeople and two members of the group were killed. The townspeople had become convinced that the outsiders were Satanists who had come to steal their children and sell their organs on an international market. This was not the first such incident in Guatemala, yet this was a town accustomed to receiving tourists and producing itself as a tourist site. The tourist pact, the protocol of the receptor, broke down. Several aspects of contemporary Guatemalan history will have contributed to this tragedy. Guatemala does not have a functioning justice system, and in its absence communities resort to lynching. In the 1980s, as most readers will know, rural communities in Guatemala were targets of an unspeakably violent genocidal military campaign in response to a guerrilla movement. Some 200,000 Guatemalans were killed by their national army, another million were displaced into refugee camps for years, and virtually everyone witnessed traumatizing atrocities that included the dismemberment of children. Today the elected head of their congress is the general who orchestrated the campaign. Imagine the psychic dissonance of being asked by your national tourist industry to perform yourself as a timeless exemplar of indigenous authenticity when this is your lived history.
Finally, whether or not Guatemalan children are being stolen for their body parts, a brisk traffic in Guatemalan babies certainly does exist. Between one and two thousand of them are exchanged each year for money on the international adoption market. These babies are among the new global travelers - there were four of them on the last plane I took from Guatemala City to Houston. Their one-way journeys result from the web of factors that calculatedly produce maximum vulnerability, disponibility, insecurity in urban and rural working populations. A thousand to fifteen hundred dollars, the amount the birth mother receives, is a fortune for a peasant or working class family in Guatemala, the chance of a lifetime, provided one succeeds in producing a healthy, defect-free baby.
The resurgence of monsters and dismemberment is not a third world phenomenon. In the United States it has taken place in film and television, most notably in the hugely successful program "X-Files," now in its 9th (and last) television season. Most of the horrors mentioned above have made appearances on the program, which draws heavily on referents harking back to the cold war, including 1950s fears of nuclear contamination and invasion from outer space. The updating of these referents in the 1990s reflected and created a first world subject of the new world order, one that likewise saw itself at the mercy of unknown and possibly state-sponsored predatory forces.
Like the recycling of death and survival literature, the resurgence of monsters and dismemberment perhaps signal processes of what one might call "demodernization" dished up by the fake protagonist, globalization. Many note the Dickensian quality of the resurgence of child labor, while news of the return of slavery in Ivory Coast and Benin, blamed on uncontrollably falling prices, has revived abolitionism. Supposedly postcolonial countries are finding themselves recolonized by the former masters as international finance organisms force them to privatize their resources. Zambia's copper industry is today back in the hands of the company that owned it in colonial times, a sale forced upon it by international lenders who controlled balance of payments support. In New Guinea, the press tells us, the Dayaks have returned to headhunting in context of invading lumber industry bringing an immigrant labor pool. The western United States, the New York Times reported in May 2001, is reacquiring the characteristics of a frontier, as the century-long effort to turn it into an agricultural zone is deemed a failure. While Euro-Americans migrate out, the Native American population grows, the land reverts to an uncultivated state, and the buffalo makes a comeback - decolonization in the form not of modernization but something more like its reveral. The erosion of national and international health care systems has brought tuberculosis back. Hypermobility means that the place you are most likely to catch it is on an airplane. The spread of AIDS invokes the earlier depredations of smallpox in the Americas, especially in the calculated indifference of official power.
Health care is just one of a range of modern apparatuses which, in the imaginary of modernity, took the form of a grid blanketing national territories, intended to reach all citizens. Electricity was perhaps the modern grid par excellence, along with rail and road transportation, telegraph, telephone and television, education, electoral and judicial systems. When grids fail, that is, then the trunk lines are not maintained, these formations become nodal,8 that is, non-inclusive. The territories between nodes can be bypassed. So cell phones replace unsustained national phone systems, and it becomes easier in highland Peru to call Florence or Bombay than the next village over - provided you have a cell phone. In many countries the state's inability or refusal to maintain the transportation grid means farmers have no way to get produce to market, and their products are replaced by imports from abroad which arrive easily through a center to center nodal system. Zambia, an agricultural country, imports corn, unbelievable as it seems, from the U.S. and South Africa because the demise of passable roads - a state responsibility - means Zambian farmers cannot sell what they grow to anyone at all. Educational grids suffer similar fates. In 1991 the Zambian government spent $60 a year on each primary school pupil; in 2000 it was $15, and 20% fewer children were enrolled. Rich countries are hardly immune to the effects resulting from the destruction of those regulatory, redistributive and custodial functions that states and international apparatuses used to performThe corporate aggression that drives agricultural prices down in Zambia does the same within the United States, making all but large scale farmers superfluous.9 My home country, Canada, has become a first class international business predator abroad, but its rural areas are being colonized by German and Swiss farmers after free-market governments suspended ecological controls and rules on foreign ownership. Tenant farming (which 19th century immigrants came to escape) has turned up, for the first time.
What I am identifying here are both processes of demodernization and stories of demodernization. The stories point to the creation on a global scale of subjects for whom the expectation of modernity (Ferguson 2000) exists as a thing of the past. This is an irreparable loss for the mature and a failure of futurity for the young. Since its January 1994 uprising Mexico's Zapatista movement has insistently refused that loss. In the spring of 1999 the Zapatistas reaffirmed the expectation of modernity through an experiment in mobility erected, precisely, on architecture of the grid. Hemmed in and harrassed in Chiapas by the Mexican army, the Zapatista movement invoked its citizens' claim to the national space by launching a "consulta ciudadana," a citizens consultation. Delegations of one man and one woman, members of the popular movement (not the guerrilla army), would travel to each of Mexico's 2,500 electoral districts where they would spend a week meeting with citizens groups, students, officials, anyone open to dialogue with them. A call went out for local host committees to establish themselves, organize the visits, and raise the money. Miraculously, they did. The consulta was to culminate in a national plebiscite on a set of Zapatista demands for citizenship, self-determination, and a cessation of state violence. So it was that in March of 1999 five thousand adults, plus another 1,000 or so children, virtually all indigenous Mexicans many of whom spoke no Spanish at all, set out on a collective journey not from margin to center, as Mexico's state-based optic would require, but from one place in the nation to everywhere else, in a grid reproducing the national electoral grid. It was a powerful intervention in a national imaginary already in the process of reinventing itself. Space does not allow here for an account of the dramatic encounters that ensued, though if it did, the registers for the telling would range from the marvelous to the grotesque: the have-nots seeing for the first time all that the haves actually have, yet physically sickened by their polluted milieu and their alien ways; mayors, impresarios, workers sitting down for the first time with indigenous people they had been taught to see as subhuman and dangerous, or not to see at all, listening to their languages for the first time, struggling to relate.10 The Zapatistas' gesture was modern in its demand for liberty, equality and fraternity but dramatically postmodern in interrupting modernity's colonial form which holds indigenous peoples in a symbolic space of radical otherness and economic, political and social marginality. The favored term "hybridity" is not particularly illuminating of the gesture.11
The Zapatista's experiment in mobility and citizenship, like their writings, asserted the interpretive and political powers of the marginalized. In a contrasting response neoliberalism's critics have introduced a vocabulary of immiseration, suffering, despair, vulnerability, entrapment, a language that seeks to be more factually and ethically grounded. Other scholars, with the Zapatistas, warn however against substituting the ungrounded language of flow with an ethically grounded language of despair. To opt for despair is to acquiesce to the whole scenario, even as one denounces it, from a position of privilege.12 J. K. Gibson-Graham, the collective author of The End of Capitalism (as we knew it) (1996) argue against accounts of globalization, laudatory or critical, rendered in "a language and an image of noncontradiction." In particular they caution against explanations that give capitalism an interpretive monopoly so that "everything comes to mean the same thing." Such accounts, as we know, will seem coherent and plausible but will remain oblivious to a set of things which, Gibson-Graham argues, cannot be subsumed into the narrative of neoliberalism or late capitalism: the continuing co-existence of capitalist and noncapitalist modes of production (especially households and self-employment), the workings of disharmonies, unintended consequences, formations Spivak would call "dysfunctional for capitalism," and processes of emancipation such as that of women, or Zapatismo (a movement profoundly shaped by women).
Or perhaps, as Gibson-Graham says, such things can be subsumed into a narrative of despair if the interpreter - we - chooses to do so. The dystopic narrative will be plausible and will lead to paralysis. But, they argue, intellectuals are accountable for creating the world as well as for describing it. They are called upon to identify in the existing world the elements of the worlds they would like to come into being. Gibson-Graham outline a practice of choosing to seek to tell the story otherwise, so that one attends to disharmonies, unintended consequences, emancipatory processes, however trivial they might seem. The apparent triviality may itself be an effect of the workings of the dominant narrative in the analyst.
For example (my example, not theirs), in the imaginary of globalization there is a tendency to see the global consumer order as a grid - a planetary blanket of Starbucks, Nikes and MacDonalds. But this imagined picture is radically untrue, a fact that becomes hugely apparent the minute one travels to almost anywhere outside the metropole. Consumption, and the ability to consume, is heavily nodal. Markets have no need to be inclusive -- it does not matter who is doing the consuming as long as enough of it is going on (indeed if consumption is concentrated, overhead goes down). The world is now full of people, places, whole regions and countries which, far from being integrated into a planetary Walmart, are and know themselves to be, entirely dispensable with respect to what is seen as the global economic and political order, to be nonparticipants in any of the futures that order invites people to imagine for themselves. This is particularly true of agricultural societies, whose lifeways are being decimated everywhere.13. This means that the neoliberal order creates not necessarily conditions of its own demise (those are probably ecological), but certainly conditions it can't make sense of: vast sectors of organized humanity who have only the tiniest access to either cash or consumption, and whose task is to make livable, meaningful lives by other means. How do people in the marginal places of the post-progress world -inhabitants of Kincaid's "small places," delinked rural areas or the huge improvised subsistence neighborhoods that ring many cities - make life viable and worth living? What succeeds and what does not? (Why do the analyses of the new world order elide the role of drugs in making immiserated lives liveable?) If people lack even the prospect of economic security, a job or of building and supporting a family, what alternative sense of futurity can be found or created (Balliger 2000)? And if none, what forms of substance and transcendence can one achieve in the present ?14 . Through the pishtako monster, Andeans incorporate the predatory phase of the debt crisis into existing historical memory anchored in a place, in what you might call a cosmos. There is considerable power in this gesture, for the Andeans retain control of meaning, situating the new dynamics in a narrative of which they remain the protagonists and the authors, even when what they are narrating is their own victimization.
Lifeways geared to ecological and human balance and continuity are, again to use Spivak's term, "not functional for [late] capitalism," which operates by a kind of roving flexibility: the assembly plant is here today, gone tomorrow. Predatory capitalism is hostile to cosmos in the sense of an integrative universe where meaning is anchored in practice and place. Such formations require and produce continuity and interconnectedness. They "get it together." So it is that in the presence of capitalism's disaggregating momentum, formations that produce continuity and interconnectedness persist and find new ways to install themselves alongside stories of organ theft that we have stories where new mobilities and access to information are used to reassemble bodies and recover stolen body parts, ancestral remains, commoditized sacred objects. In 2000, the brain of Ishii, the famed last member of his California tribe, was sought out and recovered from a storeroom of the Smithsonian Institute. The bones of the native Greenlanders that Franz Boas brought to New York a century ago were recovered in 1993 by their descendants for reburial. By 1998 such processes had become common enough for the US congress to pass a Repatriations Act .<15> In these processes of reassembling, getting it together, the things recouped are perhaps less significant than the acts of recouping them, which affirm the power to seek wholeness or fullness in a place. Of course, as Gibson-Graham would remind us, we interpreters have the power to decide that such processes are insignificant, but we are accountable for that choice and for the world it implies. (In the last year or two, academic conversation has recycled the term "romantic" as an epithet for any analysis affirming resistance, hope or transformative possibilities. This dismissive gesture, a clear example of making everything mean the same thing, endorses the narrative of despair and irresonsibility as "realistic". )
Apparently, getting it together is what brought the Virgin of Zapopan to Los Angeles. Around 1995 the Virgin multiplied herself again, this time in response to calls from followers in California, whom she now visits annually. (In 2001 she made it all the way to Hawaii.) This third self, significantly for my purposes, is called la viajera, the traveler. So now there are three of her, la original, la peregrina, la viajera. Her power of mobiity and desdoblamiento bring her into the orbit of diasporic community. IN this context her strategy of self-doubling echoes the new forms of identity, belonging and citizenship being worked out by mobile workforces and social movements all over the planet. As most readers will know, it is common now for pueblos in Mexico and Central America to have full-fledged satellite communities in the United States from which people, commodities, money, and cultural practices are sent continuously back and forth. As Roger Rouse's pioneering study showed, part of Redwood City (Rouse 1991), California is a suburb of Apatzingan, Michoacan. Victor Montejo reports that there are Tzotzuhil speaking villages in Florida, and apartment buildings reorganized according to Mesoamerican socio-spatial relations. The Mixteco of Oaxaca now have a transnational network extending from Puerto Escondido to Anchorage, and Fresno to New Jersey. Every June in the airport in San Jose, California Mexicana Airlines takes unaccompanied children by the dozens to spend summers with grandparents in ranchos and pueblos. Towns and villages reschedule and redesign local fiestas to accommodate their migrant populations (a pattern that, incidentally, re-emphasizes religious calendars over national holidays). In short, great effort, creativity, and commitment are going into making and sustaining these connections - to keeping it together. The American myth of the immigrant in search of a new life and eager to leave origins behind still exists, but it coexists alongside this other immigrant story whose project is sustaining the place of origin, often through processes of self-duplication like those of the Virgin of Zapopan. Working abroad to sustain home often implies dual citizenship in both the literal sense (more and more countries are allowing it) and the existential sense of a kind of doubling of the self into parallel identities in one place and the other. This can be both a fragmenting and an empowering experience.
In economic terms, you could say that with the demise of the mechanisms that used to redistribute wealth from north to south -national development programs, protection of local markets, international aid-émigré workers are redistributing it "by hand." (The International Development Bank says Latin American workers send $20 billion a year home from the US.) This function was recognized by Bush the Younger when, following the disastrous earthquakes in El Salvador in 2001, he gave permission for 150,000 undocumented Salvadorans to remain in the U.S. earning money to send back to help their families recover. Though the economic motivations are obvious, Gibson-Graham would tell us to look at the ways this doubling, this mobilization of the here to sustain the there, this project of keeping it together is in other respects, again to use Spivak's term, not functional for capitalism. It does not obey the dictates of consumerism or acquisitive individualism or the self-maximizing individual. In important respects it is life by other means. Fears of nostalgia should not prevent us from attending to the mechanisms people, all of us, are using to get it together and keep it together in the face of the intensified disaggregations which are functional for capitalism. The current hero of this story, and not just in the metropole, but in places like highland Guatemala too, is the cell phone. But te mobil virgins are important too because they can show up, to offset the monsters.
The inability of neoliberalism to create belonging, colletivity and abelievable sense of futurity produces, among other things, crises of existence and meaning that are being sorted through by the nonconsumers and consumers of the world alike, in ways neoliberal ideology neither predicts nor controls. The roving virgins are its symptoms and its inscrutable agents..
*I am indebted to colleagues at the Centro de Investigación y Estudios Superiores de Antropología Social (CIESAS-Occidente) in Guadalajara, Mexico for conversations and suggestions that have enriched this work, and for the privilege of a sabbatical year in their midst. For consultations on the Virgin de Zapopan I am particularly thankful to Gabriel Torres, María de la O Castellanos and Renée de la Torre. For thoughts and analysis on globalization, immiseration and their existential dimensions, I thank Mercedes de la Rocha and Rossana Reguillo. This text was completed under the auspices of a fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, 2000-2001, where I benefited from stimulating discussions with James Ferguson, Liisa Mallki and Jean Lave. I also thank colleagues in the Border Studies seminar at the University of Wisconsin, the Women's Studies center at Rutgers University and the Department of Spanish at New York University for their suggestions and the opportunity to present this work.
1 The rescue operations in the Sudan, carried out by international Christian charities, have been sharply criticized for exacerbating the problems they are trying to solve (see for example NY Times, Editorial page 4/27/01). The money paid to purchase enslaved Dinka in order to set them free has increased incentives for the government sponsored militias who are primarily responsible for Dinka slavery in the Sudan.
2 The London-Based Anti-Slavery International reports that by its definition some 27 million people today are enslaved; the transatlantic slave trade is estimated to have transported 15 million individuals over 150 years. In the US, estimates that some 100,000 girls and women were being trafficked into the country yearly in the sex trade led congress to pass a Trafficking and Violence Victims Protection Act in 2000. The mail order bride business has also revived in the US, and today involves large numbers of Russian women seeking a way out of hopeless circumstances.
3 The exception seems mainly to be children, who in the contemporary corpus do seem to appear as survivors. The rest seem to be corpses.
5 At the same time, metropolitan literatures have become diasporic. Contemporary French and English fiction are dominated by ex-colonialwriters writing for metropolitan audiences about non-metropolitan places and times. To a great degree it is a literature of storytelling.
6 When the bees actually arrived in the early to mid 90s, as the story played out, they did what immigrants to the U.S. have always been supposed to do. They interbred with the local bees, producing new strains resistant to mites that were destroying the resident population. As of this writing, the most recent killer bee story in the US press (September 2001) was about the misidentification of an apparently aggressive colony in Connecticut as "Africanized" when they were really homegrown "European" bees.
7 In July 2001 Mexico was rocked by news of the capture of "La Rana" 'the frog', a notorious hit man employed by one of the country's most powerful narco cartels. Unbeknownst to police he had been in custody for some time in a Tijuana jail. Plastic surgery and the removal of 40 pounds of fat by liposuction had made him unrecognizable.
8 Bruno Latour mentions the idea of trunk lines and the effects of their severing in We have never been modern (1991; trans. 1993). Ferguson discusses nodality in Expectations of Modernity (1999).
9 Half the potato farmers in the U.S. were forced out of business between 1995 and 2000, and the picture is about the same for US producers of other crops from corn and soybeans, to pigs and cranberries.
10 It is important to recognize the sheer originality of the act: from a position of utmost marginality and subalternity to make a utopian claim on citizenship, setting in motion a process which with the collaboration of the privileged required all to experience the historical limitations imposed on citizenship by colonial modernity. One must recognize also the courage it took for the people to embark on this journey in a world unknown but known to be dangerous to them. It was a remarkable episode in the search for what Mignolo calls a "politics of cultural transformation" (Mignolo 159).
11 Exactly two years later, drawing on lessons of the consulta ciudadana, the Zapatistas made a second march which seemed to revert from the geography of the secular, national grid, to geography of pilgrimage and the state geography of margins and center. They converged on Mexico City, intent on addressing the national congress and demanding approval of peace accords which had been on the table for years. One of the biggest crowds in the history of the city converged on the Zocalo (the central plaza) to welcome them. But the center retained its powers of repudiation. The Zapatista delegation addressed a congress whose majority absented itself; the peace accords were approved in a watered down version that did not grant the self-determination they had demanded; the status of the movement remained, as of this writing, in limbo.
12 Gayatri Spivak makes a related point when she rejects the discourse that creates the third world as the place where wrongs occur, and assigns the first world the task of righting wrongs (Presidential Lecture at Stanford University, March 2001).
13 The 70,000 inhabitants of the valley of Tambogrande in northern Peru, for example, find that their $110 million a year crops of mango and limes is entirely dispensable in the eyes of the Manhattan Minerals Corporation who wants to turn their land into an open faced mine that would employ at the most 500 of them. Ironically, the fruit growing enterprise, for whose survival they are now fighting, was itself made possible 50 years ago by a World Bank irrigation project. Neither Manhattan Minerals nor President Fujimori who approved the mine presented a proposal for the tens of thousands who would be economically displaced by the mine (Lima: Noticias Aliadas 38:13, 4/16/01). Some theorists are using the category of the "abject" to describe these huge sectors of organized humanity-"abject" in its etymological sense of being expelled, thrown out or down (see for instance, Ferguson 1999). Doubts about the connotations of the term have kept me from using it.
14 Here the written sources are ethnographers. Ferguson 1999 discusses the emergence in Zambian urban migrant culture of styles that cannot be analyzed as expressions of an underlying code. Anthropologist Robin Balliger (2000), working in Trinidad studies youth culture and the globalized music scene from a related point of view. Music and dance, and a whole set of practices linked to them turn out to be the mechanisms for creating a meaningful, nearly cashless, communal cosmos.
15 On repatriation, see Clifford 1997, esp. chapters 5 and 7. Clifford (2000) has also dealt extensively with the Ishii case. On the Greenlanders and Boas, see Harper (2000)
Balliger, Robin. Noisy Spaces: Popular MusicConsumption, Social Fragmentation and the Cultural Politics of Globalization in Trinidad, PhD dissertation, Department of Cultural and Social Anthropology, Stanford University, 2000.
Caldeira, Teresa, City of Walls: Crime,Segregation and Citizenship in São Paulo. Berkeley: U of California Press 2001.
Clifford, James. Routes: Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century, Cambridge: Harvard UP 1997.
___________. "History, Anthropology and the Future of Native California," Faculty Research Lecture, UC Santa Cruz, October 2000
De la Rocha, Mercedes. Private Adjustments: Household Responses to the Erosion of work, UN Bureau for Development Policy, Conference Paper Series, 2000.
Featherstone, Mike. Global Culture: Nationalism, Globalization and Modernity. London: Sage 1990.
Ferguson, James. Expectations of Modernity: Myths and meanings of Urban Life on the Zambian Copperbelt. Berkeley: UC Press 1999.
Gibson-Graham, J. K. The End of Capitalism (as we knew it):A Feminist Critique of Political Economy,
Hannerz, Ulf, "Cosmopolitans and locals in world culture" in Featherstone 1990, 237-52 .
Harper, Ken. Give me my Father's Body: The Life of Minik, the New York Eskimo, South Royalton VT: Steerforth Press 2000
Latour, Bruno. We Have Never Been Modern. English translation of Nous n'avons jamais été modernes (1991) by Catherine Porter. Harvard UP 1993
Lynas, Mark. "Letter from Zambia," The Nation, 2/14/00
Mignolo, Walter. Local Histories/Global Designs. Princeton UP 2000.
Ochoa, Fr.Angel S., O.F.M. Breve historia de Nuestra Señora de Zapopan, Zapopan, Jal. 1961.
Robertson, Roland, "Mapping the Global Condition:Globalization as the central concept" in Featherstone 1990, 15-30.
Rouse, Roger, "Mexican Migration and the Social Space of Postmodernism," Diaspora 1:1 (1991), 8-23.
Spivak, Gayatri. Critique of Postcolonial Reason, Harvard UP, 1999.
_____________. Presidential Lecture, Stanford University, March 2001
Wachtel, Nathan. Gods and Vampires: Return to Chipaya. U Chicago Press, 1994.
Mary Louise Pratt is professor and chair of Spanish and Portuguese and professor of Comparative Literature and at Stanford University. Her publications include Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (1992), Women, Culture and Politics in Latin America (co-authored), Linguistics for Students of Literature (with Elizabeth C. Traugott, 1980), and Toward a Speech Act Theory of Literary Discourse (1977), as well as several essays on literature, culture and politics. Books in progress include Mujer y ciudadanía: historia de discursos, 1820 1997/Gender and Citizenship: Latin American Women Engage the Nation, 1820-1997; and In This Together with Renato Rosaldo.
Mary Louise Pratt is a Silver Professor and Professor of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Literatures at New York University. She received her B.A. in Modern Languages and Literatures from the University of Toronto in 1970, her M.A. in Linguistics from the University of Illinois at Urbana in 1971, and her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Stanford University in 1975.
Her first book, Toward a Speech Act Theory of Literary Discourse, made an important contribution to critical theory by demonstrating that the foundation of written literary narrative can be seen in the structure of Oral Narrative. In it Pratt uses the research of William Labov to show that all narratives contain common structures that can be found in both literary and oral narratives.
In her more recent research, Pratt has studied what she calls contact zones - areas in which two or more cultures communicate and negotiate shared histories and power relations. She remarks that contact zones are “social spaces where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power, such as colonialism, slavery, or their aftermaths as they are lived out in many parts of the world today.” In her article “Arts of the Contact Zone,” Pratt also coins the term autoethnographic texts, which are “text[s] in which people undertake to describe themselves in ways that engage with representations others have made of them.” 
Changing public discourse about language acquisition
As a part of the appointment, each Silver professor must write a Silver dialogue, an essay discussing a major issue in his or her field. Pratt used her essay to discuss the obstacles and possible solutions for promoting language learning in America. Pratt frames her argument with an anecdote from a multicultural wedding:
IT WAS a fancy California wedding party at a big Bay Area hotel. The groom's family spoke Urdu, and the bride's spoke Gujarati and Urdu. Both were practicing Muslims, but she was from southern California, sometimes regarded by northerners as too laid-back. The groom was attended by his two best friends from high school, one of Mexican- Jewish-Anglo parentage and the other of Chinese and Japanese descent via Hawai'i and Sacramento.
Pratt uses the wedding as a segue to expose American myths about language. Pratt systematically challenges four common misconceptions about language learning: the willing rejection of heritage languages by immigrants, American hostility to multilingualism, the limit of second language learning to early childhood, and the need of language expertise solely for national security. With each misconception Pratt shows how these factors have come together to create a resistance to language learning that has helped cause the national security crisis that the Critical Language Institutes are trying to solve.
Pratt shows hope for changing the public discourse and outlines four ideas that need to be promoted in order to encourage language acquisition in America. Pratt sees a need to correct ideas about mono- and multilingualism. Americans need to be shown that monolingualism is a handicap and that relying on others' willingness to learn English will simply limit transcultural communication to "all but the most limited and scripted" exchanges  Pratt also calls more encouragement of heritage language learning and using local non-English linguistic communities to fulfill needs in language learning and transcultural understanding. Along with using heritage communities, Pratt wants to see educators place more emphasis on advanced language competency and create a pipeline to encourage those who are skilled in language acquisition. In order to bring about these changes, she calls on her fellow academics and other LEPs (linguistically endowed persons) to change how we discuss language learning in American public discourse.
Works by Pratt
- Toward a Speech Act Theory of Literary Discourse. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 1977. ISBN 0-253-37006-X.
- Mary Louise Pratt (1991). "Arts of the Contact Zone"(pdf). Profession. New York: MLA. 91: 33–40.
- Petrosky, Anthony (1999). David Bartholomae and Anthony Petroksky, ed. Ways of Reading (5th ed.). New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s. ISBN 978-0-312-45413-5.
- Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation. London: Routledge. 1992. ISBN 0-415-02675-X.
- Mary Louis Pratt and Kathleen Newman, ed. (1999). Critical Passions: Selected Essays. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. ISBN 0-8223-2248-X.
- Nomadías (2000). Des-escribir a Pinochet: desbaratando la cultura del miedo en Chile. Santiago: Universidad de Chile, Facultad de Filosofia y Humanidades.