Fields of Fire: Emancipation and Resistance in Colombia identifies the concept of the emancipatory network as a coordination of loose, discrete, and differentiated actors to explain how activists successfully practice high-risk activism. Illustrating that previous studies on high-risk activism come to contradictory conclusions, Louis Edgar Esparza argues that networks rather than individual characteristics are associated with mobilization. The book features unique ethnographic material of a Colombian sugarcane worker strike and includes interviews with workers and human rights activists in Valle del Cauca and Bogotá that reveal different forms of knowledge that activists bring to a social movement. It argues that the combination of these different forms of knowledge bolsters the movement’s resiliency in the face of repression. The book provides a counterfactual chapter, illustrating a lack of mobilization where the emancipatory network is absent. Ultimately, it integrates English and Spanish-language social movement literatures, revealing important theoretical insights, and is detailed with data from various sources to outline the state context of social movement action.
Louis Edgar Esparza is professor of sociology at California State University-Los Angeles.
Table of Contents
List of Figures
Chapter 1 Risk
Chapter 2 Emancipatory Networks
Chapter 3 Humiliation
Chapter 4 Leadership
Chapter 5 Bogotá
Chapter 6 Conclusion
About the author
This is a brilliant and entertaining study of rural Colombia, showing how invisible social networks actually work to spark political action, often suddenly and surprisingly. It combines poetic ethnographic observation with high-level theories of political action.
Situated at the crossroad of social movement scholarship and Latin American Studies, a peak moment of political contention in Colombia's recent history is told with the accuracy of a social scientist, the vivid descriptions of an intrepid ethnographer and the empathy of a native son.
Esparza's lively comparative study of Colombian social movements will fascinate readers interested in the possibilities for and efficacy of collective action in repressive political contexts. Among other findings, Esparza demonstrates how feelings of humiliation can produce rebellion as much as quiescence.