ISRF Political Economy Fellow 2019
ISRF Political Economy Fellow 2019
Chris Hesketh is Programme Lead for Politics, International Relations and Sociology at Oxford Brookes University. He received his BA, MA and PhD all from the University of Nottingham. Before joining Oxford Brookes in 2012 he taught at the University of Nottingham and at Birkbeck College. Chris has an inter-disciplinary research agenda that combines political economy, the historical sociology of international relations, political geography, political theory and Latin American studies. These interests are captured in his monograph, Spaces of Capital / Spaces of Resistance: Mexico and the Global Political Economy (University of Georgia Press, 2017) which has been shortlisted for the 2018 International Political Economy Group book prize.
His ISRF project seeks to conduct a comparative analysis of indigenous movements in Latin America in relation to their contestation of neo-extractivist development. Specifically, his project will compare indigenous movements in Mexico (the country in Latin America with the highest number of defined indigenous inhabitants) and Bolivia (the country in Latin America with the highest proportion of indigenous inhabitants as a percentage of the total population). The research will explore indigenous strategies to defend land, territory and human rights at a time when the chosen development strategy of their respective states has often imperilled these. The research will be guided by the notion of ‘political class formation’ which moves beyond a conception of class that only explores productive relations to also encompass broader contextual political issues including state intervention, regional culture and varieties of leadership.
This research will conduct an analysis of indigenous struggles in Latin America and their evolving positionalities with regards to the state, in the context of neo-extractivist development (a development strategy focused on natural resource extraction with the state working in tandem with private capital). Specifically this project will undertake a comparison between indigenous movements in Mexico (the country in Latin America with the highest number of indigenous inhabitants) and Bolivia (the country in Latin America with the highest proportion of indigenous inhabitants as a percentage of the total population). Indigenous subjectivities have often been regarded as an anachronism in Latin America that would be absorbed through the twin processes of mestization (racial assimilation) and/or proletarianisation (conversion into wage workers). Yet indigenous movements are now the leading social force of popular mobilisation in the region. The demands articulated by indigenous groups raise important questions with regards to issues such as how multi-culturalism is conceived, pluri-ethnic conceptions of nationhood practiced and post-liberal citizenship enacted, concerns relevant in and beyond the region. The proposed research will explore processes of political class formation linked to place-based indigenous social movements, locating them within the wider dynamics uneven development in and beyond Latin America. I seek to investigate this within an inter-disciplinary approach of historical-geographical sociology (Hesketh 2017; Hesketh and Morton 2014), that also draws explicitly from Michael Burawoy’s (1998) extended case method to conduct a multi-scalar analysis, synthesizing both macro-level global structures with the everyday, micro-situations of lived experience. It fulfils the goals of the ISRF by contributing to a new innovative theorization of indigenous struggles that draws upon diverse disciplinary perspectives that often talk past each other. It uses such interdisciplinary expertise to address a real world problem of social exclusion and violent displacement currently taking place in the name of development.