New World of Indigenous Resistance
Noam Chomsky and Voices from North, South, and Central America
Reader comment | Sep 19, 2010, Michael
New World of Indigenous Resistance, edited by Lois Meyer and Benjamin Maldonado Alvarado, is a powerful and moving account of the struggle for self-determination. World-renowned linguist and political activist Noam Chomsky provides insightful perspectives on the homogenizing effects of "western" educational practices on the Peoples of North, Central, and South America. Yet, as one quickly finds, Chomsky's distanced comments pale in comparison to the always respectful, but profoundly knowing...more reactions of indigenous educators and activists who are on the ground, struggling to provide an education appropriate for and in sync with the values, beliefs, customs, traditions, and practices of native communities. Comunalidad, a concept long erased from the Western European psyche and replaced with the dichotomous notions of ownership, independence, and dominance, is a force exceeding the boundaries of linguistic description that unifies, guides, educates, provides for, and protects indigenous communities. Only by reading the personal accounts, narratives, and scholarly commentaries contained in New World of Indigenous Resistance can one begin to understand the richness and empowerment embedded in comunalidad.
New World of Indigenous Resistance challenges taken for granted concepts, such as multiculturalism as veiled attempts by the dominant culture to commercialize blue corn tortillas and piñatas while surreptitiously inculcating individualistic and entrepreneurial values that tear at the very fabric of comunalidad.
For those who come from privilege, who have benefitted from colonization, it is easy to be convinced that indigenous struggles for survival and self-determination were fought and lost in centuries past. Meyer & Maldonado Alvarado, providing a conduit for the indigenous voices of the Americas, illustrate beyond any doubt that the native communities continue to live a dominated existence, yet because of and through comunalidad, find solidarity in the commitment to reclaim their communities for their communities.
This is not a book for indigenous Peoples only. It is a book for anyone who has colonized or been colonized, who has dominated or been dominated, who has controlled or been controlled, who has resisted or wanted to resist. In short, it is a must read for everyone.
Reader comment | Aug 24, 2010, Victoria Restler
New World of Indigenous Resistance is a "hemispheric conversation among equals." There are twenty-two essays by Latin American academics and practitioners gathered in this volume edited by Benjamin Maldonado and Lois Meyer. Each essay is a response to a series of interviews between Meyer, an American linguist with long experience in indigenous Mexico, and Noam Chomsky. The interviews originate with issues of indigenous education and social movements and examine many topics including state...more formation, new regionalism, and the neoliberal reign. Ever provocative, Chomsky situates the specifics of contemporary indigenous resistance within a broad and original historical framework.
The great service of the Meyer-Chomsky interviews is to present a rich menu of concepts and questions which the contributors probe. The treasures of this groundbreaking work are the twenty-two essays by indigenous scholars, activists, and educators from Mexico to Argentina. For most of the contributors, widely known in their own communities and countries, this is the first time their writings have been published in English. As Meyer, Kirwin, and Tooher note in their “open ended closing,” this volume draws attention to the great dearth of indigenous voices present in the Western dialogue. It is both exasperating and thrilling “to encounter so many indigenous voices, perspectives and resilient resistance movements…about which we previously knew little or nothing.”
The concept and curation of New World of Indigenous Resistance also merits praise. The range of voices across language, culture, and geography assembled by Maldonado and Meyer engaged in a translated (and re-translated), virtual dialogue, suggests a wonderful mezcla of globalism, technology, difference, and cultural regeneration. The form and content of these perspectives—personal, and communal, allied and contradictory—exemplifies the oft-cited Zapatista aspiration of “a world in which many worlds fit.” Meyer and Maldonado have carved open a vital space for new voices and views on education, community, culture, and the environment. They call for a more inclusive dialogue and a new kind of intercultural exchange.
Reader comment | Jul 17, 2010, J. L. Santana
"New World of Indigenous Resistance," by Lois Meyer and Benjamin Maldonado, has given us an opportune and important dialogue with Noam Chomsky and many activists and scholars from the Americas. I would like to contribute some thoughts as for this book. I was born and raised as a monolingual Spanish speaker in Ecuador. I was educated in an elite all-boys Catholic school until 8th grade. I knew that Ecuador and all the countries in America were multilingual and multicultural, but my world was...more surrounded by monolingual speakers who were not interested in knowing there historical heritage and thus creating within me a conflict of denying my roots. A conflict because I was not encouraged to know my past, my indigenous past.
This book, with its many contributors, brings a myriad of important and directly related issues to hegemonic resistance. These indigenous voices are central to this book. They and Noam Chomsky deliver a tangible message of true hope in these hazardous and death-defying times to our native brothers and sisters. Throughout this book, we read real life experiences which are an essential corporeal movement of decolonization. The framework of this book is the concept of comunalidad which is very foreign to most of us non-indigenous peoples. This new concept gave me a better understanding of indigenous experiences and their reactions to hegemonic systems currently in place.
This book moves beyond the typical hegemonic literary definition. It deals with issues of globalization in many areas which threat the origin of indigenous epistemologies and their ways of living. In sum, thank you for this dialogue that has consciously honor equally the wisdom that represents so many different peoples. As a current educator in the United States, I find this book to be filled with hope by taking action. It is essential to all of us non-indigenous peoples to look at our past and reflect. Just like Busquets (in this book) quotes an advice from a wise elder leader which could be applied for all of us: "You who live in the city, how do you live, and what value does your work have for you? “Why is it important that our families work united, helping one another? “Do you work with joy, satisfaction and liberty? “How do you resist selfishness and the power of individualism? “Do you know how to work in community? “How can we build a better future for our children?