Ramor Ryan's scientific contributions

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This is the sixth ‘Alternatives’ section in CITY (previously we have featured work from Argentina, the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army; global bloggers, and rogue billboarders and artists). The Alternatives section focuses on alternative responses of resistance, autonomy, hope and creativity which might provide new visions and ideas for the contemporary city. We explore, discuss and engage with groups and individuals who are developing alternative urban visions, practices and policies. We encourage material of a variety of types and from a variety of sources, especially from those which fall outside formal institutions and ways of doing things.In this issue of CITY, our ‘Alternatives’ section returns to one of the most inspiring and important revolutionary movements in the contemporary world—the Zapatistas of Mexico (see Sophie Style in Vol. 4, No. 2 of CITY for our first discussion of the Zapatistas). Since their uprising in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas in 1994, they have provided a beacon of hope: as a working example of living autonomously despite capitalism, and as an effective opposition to neo‐liberal economic policies.In the following pages, we have two pieces which revisit their struggle. The first is from Ramor Ryan, Irish writer, revolutionary and long‐time supporter of the Zapatistas. He reflects on the contradictions between the disorientating and often problematic experiences of international solidarity, and the more solid experiences of the Zapatista autonomous municipalities in practice. The second is a report from a recent fieldtrip which I took to the heart of this revolution. Thirty of us from the University of Leeds journeyed deep into the Chiapas mountains to spend time with, and learn from, the Junta del Buen Gobierno (Good Government Committee) of the fourth Rebel Zone, known as Corazón del Arcoiris de la Esperanza (Heart of the Rainbow of Hope). What we include here is an extract from a meeting and subsequent questions with the Junta where we explored how they work and the challenges they face and the hopes they have. The Zapatistas continue to inspire and inform all of us as to how we can make a new kind of radical politics, together, every day, which aims to be inclusive, relevant and which at the same time develops a critique and response to capitalist social relations and neo‐liberal economic policies. It is an honour to be able to support them in these pages. But as the Zapatistas say, don’t follow us, be a Zapatista wherever you are!

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Paul Chatterton
  • University of Leeds

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