Neoliberalism, surveillance and media convergence

Authored by: Julie Cupples , Kevin Glynn

The Handbook of Neoliberalism

Print publication date:  June  2016
Online publication date:  July  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138844001
eBook ISBN: 9781315730660
Adobe ISBN: 9781317549666


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Two decades ago, long before the creation of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, an incisive and highly seductive mediated critique of neoliberalism was produced from the Lacandón Jungle in Chiapas in southern Mexico and circulated around the globe. The indigenous peoples who lived in that region and called themselves the Zapatistas had had enough of the policies that condemned them to persistent precarity. On 1 January 1994, the day the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) came into force, they took advantage of the global media presence in Mexico to create their own alternative media spectacle and thus to forge a space through which to articulate their resistance and present their demands. Thanks in part to new media technologies, and in particular rapidly expanding internet connectivity, their ideas spread widely and found resonance not only with other indigenous groups, but also with all kinds of people in Mexico and around the world, including students, environmentalists, farmers, middle-class families, feminists, shantytown dwellers, and others whose lives were similarly characterized by social exclusion and economic insecurity. The Zapatista movement was rooted in the everyday realities of southern Mexico but drew upon and contributed to the development of global counterdiscourses challenging neoliberalism. Through the creative hybridization and rearticulation of the Latin American revolutionary tradition, Marxism–Leninism and Mayan cosmologies, the Zapatistas provided a set of discursive resources that were useful to others whose local realities differed from those of Chiapas but who were up against many of the same destructive global forces. The two decades that have passed since the emergence of the Zapatista rebellion have been a period in which new media platforms and delivery technologies have arisen, and the contestation of neoliberalism has proliferated and intensified.

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