Autonomy Is In Our Hearts: A Talk By Dylan Eldredge Fitzwater

Sponsored by the Loyola Latin American Studies Program with the support of La Terre Institute for Community and Ecology:

Thursday, March 28
7:30 PM
Monroe Hall 628
Loyola University

Free and open. Sponsored by the Loyola Latin American Studies Program. For further information, please contact
The lessons offered by the Zapatista movement of Chiapas, Mexico are more pertinent now than ever. As the “pink tide” of left Latin American governments fails and the right resurges throughout the Americas and the world, the Zapatistas offer a different way forward. Instead of seeking state power, they have remained steadfast in their commitment to build an autonomous system beyond the logic of capital and the nation state, and continuously resist attacks on their communities from across the Mexican political spectrum. Autonomy Is in Our Hearts gives a detailed account of their autonomous governmental system, based on hundreds of testimonies from within the Zapatista base communities. It is rooted in Dylan Fitzwater’s own experiences of years of Zapatista solidarity work and as a student of Tsotsil, a Mayan language indigenous to the highland Zapatista communities of Chiapas.
Dylan analyzes the autonomous governmental system through the conceptual language of Tsotsil imparted to him by his Zapatista teachers. The foundations of this system lie in long traditions of indigenous understandings of labor, spirit, social change, self-defense, capitalism, and the good life. The words “Freedom”, “Justice”, and “Democracy” emblazoned on the Zapatista flag are only rough translations of concepts such as ichbail ta muk’ or “mutual recognition and respect among equal persons or peoples,” a’mtel or “collective work done for the good of a community” and lekil kuxlejal or “the life that is good for everyone.” Dylan’s book provides a comprehensive analysis that unfolds a new political language for understanding the Zapatista movement. It is one of the first and most in-depth studies of the political categories of Tsotsil and an indispensable guide to the inner workings of Zapatista autonomous government.
Dylan Fitzwater has encountered the Zapatistas as a human rights observer, a participant in international gatherings and a student at the Zapatista language school in Oventik. He recently lived in Portland, Oregon, where he worked at Burgerville, a regional fast-food chain, and organized for the Burgerville Workers Union, an affiliate of the Industrial Workers of the World. He is currently on the road living out of a van and selling Zapatista coffee through MonkeyBear Coop.