The teachers’ campaign in defense of public education and against the neoliberal reforms being introduced by the Mexican government has ignited a new cycle of social struggles and an outbreak of violent repression in Mexico. This short article was written from within the barricade/encampment of San Cristobal de Las Casas (Chiapas), where, for nearly two weeks, organized teachers together with a supportive heterogeneous population are blockading the highway to Tuxtla Gutierrez—the state’s capital. The encampment of San Cristobal is one of the dozens of blockades that have been set up over the last few weeks all across the country.
I arrived in London on 10 July, a few weeks after the Brexit referendum. I was in Parliament the following day—the day Theresa May was named the new prime minister.
Reading about the situation is one thing; dealing with it ethnographically is another. I have no idea how to proceed, nor do I trust my initial observations. So this post with its provisional assertions should be read with circumspection.
Bulgarians on their way to the “West”
EU immigration was the primary source of contention in the debates surrounding the recent referendum about the United Kingdom’s EU membership. The “leave” campaign continuously bombarded the public with warnings about “uncontrollable hordes” of EU benefit seekers (for a discussion on the construction of migrant categories, see Apostolova 2016) planning to permanently settle for the “easy” life in the UK and take away the jobs of the locals. Likewise, the “remain” campaign promised to crack down on the number of immigrants and further restrict the rights of newcomers. In this way, both camps reinforced the perception that immigration from the EU, and in particular from eastern Europe, is a problem. Furthermore, in their effort to make the case for a “remain” scenario, academic voices tirelessly demonstrated the economic, cultural, and demographic benefits of EU migration. Such efforts, however well intended, still feed into an instrumentalist policy perspective that constructs migrants’ lives as only important in terms of their added value for the local economy.