Making “the People”: Political Imaginaries and the Materiality of Barricades in Mexico and Latvia

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Iván Arenas
Dace Dzenovska


A comparative study of barricade socialities in Oaxaca (Mexico) and Rîga (Latvia). In Rîga in 1991, Latvian and Russian residents jointly built and manned barricades faced with the threat of Soviet military intervention. In Oaxaca in 2006, the governor’s violent clampdown on a teachers’ strike led to a massive conflict in which over 1,500 barricades were erected by local residents to protect themselves against police incursions. In the Latvian case, the barricades supported the political imaginary of national self-determination, while in Oaxaca they were extensions of neighborhood life. In both cases, however, the immediate experience of barricade sociality transcended political imaginaries and left a lasting effect: the “barricade feeling” is revived, for example, by participants of embattled lesbian and gay Pride parades in Latvia, and those seeking grassroots alternatives to representative democracy in Oaxaca. In English, extensive summary in Russian.


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