» Archive for: November, 2013

We would like to invite you to the next CIRI seminar on Tuesday 3rd December at room 339, 13-14 hrs by Aymara Flores.

Ms. Aymara Flores is a PhD student at the Department of Research in Education from the Advance Center on Research (CINVESTAV), Mexico City. She will be at ISS hosted by CIRI as a PhD research fellow working under Dr. Rosalba Icaza’s supervision. Ms. Flores is in the second year of the PhD in Educational Research and her dissertation topic is: “Political Conflicts and Strikes at the Instituto Politécnico Nacional (IPN): Student Struggles to Defend Technical Education in Mexico ca. 1941-1956”.

About the research

During the administration of Presidents Manuel Ávila Camacho, Miguel Alemán and Adolfo Ruiz Cortines, students, teachers and administrative authorities of the Instituto Politécnico Nacional (IPN) went through moments of crisis and conflict which led them to engage in a series of political interactions with different Ministries of Education and Federal Executive holders. Several historical factors influenced the massive student discontent: 1) The legal and administrative ambiguity of the Institute’s status because of the lack of an Organic Law to regulate its operations, the designation of authorities and student representation. 2) The uncertainty over the importance of technical education for the government’s political project. 3) Budget cuts that reduced low-income student benefits such as scholarships, subsidized meals, and dormitories. In this context, student discontent was expressed through various forms of political protest during the fourties and fifties.

The main goal of my doctoral thesis is to explain and analize the political student organization of Politécnicos (as students of IPN were called) in order to defend their technical education in Mexico ca. 1941-1956. The analysis will focus on the interactions among students, state and civil society, taking into account dialogue, negotiation, resistance, violence and state repression. Contributions to resistance theory, and criticisms of James C. Scott’s perspective,  by scholars such as Sherry Ortner (1995), John Gledhill (2012), and Alan Knight (2012) will be central to my argument. I aim to explain and point out which student actions may be characterized as resistance and which may not. I seek to contribute to scholarly understanding of resistance studies from a Latin American perspective describing and analyzing social and political interactions between students and state agents. I also discuss how violence may be a constitutive part of dialogue and negotiation processes as a visible or hidden element depending on the circumstances. My research seeks to contribute to the recent historiography that questions state hegemony in Mexico during the twentieth century by describing violence and coercion between state and civil society (Gillingham and Smith, forthcoming; Pansters, 2012).

The hypothesis that guides my research is that Politécnicos developed forms of organization that consolidated their political agency represented in the Federación Nacional de Estudiantes Técnicos (FNET) during the forties and fifties. Nevertheless, the success of the student organization came to an end when reactionary gangs payed by the government –porros– were introduced as an attempt to stop student political actions at the Instituto Politécnico Nacional (Pensado, 2013). This failure can be explained as a result of various factors: the development of caciquismo (boss rule) among the student leaders of the FNET (Pansters, 2005), the limited powers of the students (Knight, 2012: 343) to subvert certain impositions by the authorities, and 1950s Mexican state’s practices which chose violent repression as one of their main forms of dealing with social movements (thus showing its authoritarianism and incapacity to negotiate peacefully with dissident groups). This study seeks to contribute to the recent history of social movements during the 1940s and 1950s, so far outshined by scholarly interest in the 1968 student movement in Mexico City. Last but not least, an examination of students’ political engagement with state agents during 1940-1956 will help elucidate the weaknesses and strengths of the process of hegemony between the Mexican state and civil society (Icaza, 2008).


Gillingham, Paul and Benjamin T. Smith (eds.) (in press) “From Revolution to Dictablanda: Balancing the Equation of Mexican Authoritarianism” in Gillingham, Paul and Benjamin T. Smith (eds.) Dictablanda. Softh Authoritarianism in Mexico.

Gledhill, John (2012) “A Case for Rethinking Resistance” in Gledhill, John y Patience Schell (eds.) New Approaches to Resistance in Brazil and Mexico, Durham and London, Duke University Press, pp. 1-20.

Icaza Garza, R.A. (2008) “Civil Society and Regionalisms in the Americas”, Workshop paper from International Forum of Montreal on Regionalism and Civil Society, Montreal, Canada, 11-12 February.

Knight, Alan (2012) “Rethinking Histories of Resistance in Brazil and Mexico” in Gledhill, John y Patience Schell (eds.) New Approaches to Resistance in Brazil and Mexico, Durham and London, Duke University Press, pp. 325-354.

Ortner, Sherry B. (1995) “Resistance and the Problem of Ethnograpich Results”, Comparative Studies in Society and History 37, no. 1: 173-193.

Pansters, Wil (2005) “Building a Cacicazgo in a Neoliberal University” in Kinght, Alan and Wil Pansters (eds.) Caciquismo in Twentieth-Century Mexico, London, Institute for the Study of the Americas, pp. 296-326.

Pansters, Wil (ed.) (2012) Violence, Coercion, and State-Making in Twentieth-Century Mexico. The Other Half of the Centaur,  Standord, CA., Stanford University Press

Pensado, Jaime (2013) Rebel Mexico: Student Unrest and Authoritarian Political Culture During the Long Sixties, Stanford, CA., Stanford University Press.

We would like to invite you to the next CIRI seminar on Thursday 28th November at room 4.01, 13-14 hrs by Peter Waterman, with the title “Recovering Labour and Social(ist) Internationalism, Creating a Global Solidarity and Justice Movement”.


After the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal, India, 1984, two Indian scholars said that ‘solidarity’ was the forgotten term in the trinity of the French Revolution (Liberty, Equality, Fraternity). Since then I have been working on the topic of international labour and social movement solidarity and think it (or they?) need rethinking in the light of what has been called ‘2010+’. In other words, the Arab uprisings, Occupy, Democracia Real, the Brazilian protests, and the Global Uprisings conference (Amsterdam, November). My argument consists of a series of propositions: 1) ‘International Solidarity’ has many possible meanings; 2) International solidarity changes over time, and amongst/ between contemporary actors/bearers thereof;  3) The relationship between social movement, NGO and…err…state?… internationalism is complex and contested/contestable;  4) 2013: cyber-communication is the nervous system of  internationalism and solidarity.

About the author

Peter Waterman (London, 1936) worked twice in the international Communist movement (1950s, 1960s) before joining the ISS (1972-98) and teaching in the Labour and Politics programmes. He has teaching and/or research experience in Nigeria, South Africa, India, North and South America, as well as in West and East Europe. He has published in various languages, increasingly online. He is currently associated with the online journal, Interface, with DemocraciaGlobal in Lima, and NetworkedLabour, Amsterdam.

The current DevISSues published regularly by ISS is focused on Academia and Activisms, one of topics promoted by members of CIRI. Among others Kees Biekart, Rozalba Icaza and Wendy Harcourt.

“The world is experiencing the global wave of activism: in communities, cities, and at the global level. It has spread quickly after its start in 2010 in North Africa, Latin America and Asia to European cities. Recent protests in India, Brazil or Turkey, underline that this is not just an incident, as contributors of the issue indicate.”

Read more the experience and point of views from all around the world.

The table of contents

  1. Wendy Harcourt:
    On Activisms and Scholarship
  2. Rui Mesquita Cordeiro:
    The Giant Awakes (Again)
  3. Ruth Milkman:
    Reflections on the Occupy Wall Street Movement
  4. Cevahir Özgüler:
    Chapullers’ in Turkey: ‘Everywhere Taksim, Everywhere Resistance!
  5. Remko Berkhout:
    Bridging Practice and Academia: the Hivos Knowledge Programme
  6. Madhura Chakraborty:
    Protest Against Rape in India
  7. Kees Biekart & Rosalba Icaza:
    Re-merging Interest for Participatory Action Research
  8. Victor Hugo Canda:
    Passing the Torch: From Generation to Generation
  9. Jerome Gama Sarur:
    From Rotterdam to South Sudan: Politics and Planting Trees

Download the issue here.

We are pleased to invite you to the next session of the Development Research Series ‘Bodies in Resistance’ on Monday 4th November from 16:15 to 17:45 in Small Aula (International Institute of Social Studies).

The invited speaker Helen Dixon, Research Activist and British-Canadian-Nicaraguan feminist will deliver her keynote speech under the title ‘Crossing borders, centring the self: sexuality and affinity in an experience of feminist empowerment and cultural practice in Nicaragua’. CIRI member and researcher, Loes Keysers, will be the invited discussant.

Helen Dixon is a feminist writer, freelance practitioner/consultant in methodologies for self-empowerment and collective organisation. She is also a translator-interpreter, artist and activist. She lived, worked and loved in Nicaragua from 1988 to 2011 and is presently living in the UK and working on a novel.


As feminists how do we come into being in the changing place of our selves, our languages and our sexualities in a world beyond the fixed categories of patriarchal hegemony? How do we open up spaces of work on the self that contribute to collective empowerment based on interconnecting autonomous subjectivities?

In this work, reflections across intersecting identities about sexuality and love, power and colonisation, are key to shifting the comforting binaries of belonging, enabling us to speak on the edges of known language and act on the borders between document and fiction, past-present and future-present. How does this happen in the contemporary political context of Nicaragua and what can we learn from this to help shape our practices elsewhere?

About the series ‘Bodies in Resistance’

The series illustrate how shifting forms of oppression and discrimination, including sexual and racial-based discrimination, and gender relations are part and parcel of social movement protest. Speakers from Latin America, Africa, Eastern Europe, USA and Asia bring examples of ‘bodies in resistance’ in civic action and movements organizing for social change.


International Institute of Social Studies

CIRI aims to scale up and identify synergies between existing research at ISS on civic agency and change agents, as drivers of societal change and development. This blog is a forum on which to share and discuss themes and issues which fall within the broad framework of the programme.

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