In this gorgeous collection of allegorical stories, Subcomandante Marcos, idiosyncratic spokesperson of the Zapatistas, has provided “an accidental archive” of a revolutionary group’s struggle against neoliberalism. For thirty years, the Zapatistas have influenced and inspired movements worldwide, showing that another world is possible. They have infused left politics with a distinct imaginary—and an imaginative, literary, or poetic dimension—organizing horizontally, outside and against the state, and with a profound respect for difference as a source of political insight, not division. With commentaries that illuminate their historical, political, and literary contexts and an introduction by the translators, this timeless, elegiac volume is perfect for lovers of literature and lovers of revolution.
“From the beating heart of Mesoamerica the old gods speak to Old Antonio, a glasses-wearing, pipe-smoking beetle who studies neoliberalism, and both tell their tales to Subcomandante Marcos who passes them on to us: the stories of the Zapatistas’ revolutionary struggles from below and to the left. The Colectivo Relámpago (Lightning Collective), based in Amherst, Massachusetts, translates and comments with bolts of illumination zigzagging across cultures and nations, bringing bursts of laughter and sudden charges of hot-wired political energy. It seems like child’s play, yet it’s almost divine!”
—Peter Linebaugh, author of Red Round Globe Hot Burning
“This is a beautiful, inspired project. In a joyful Zapatista gesture readers will welcome, this volume invites us to play, to walk on different, and even contrary paths through smooth and crystalline translations that bring these ‘other stories’ to life. The translators’ commentaries preserve a delicate balance of expertise and autonomy as they illuminate the historical, political, and cultural forces that provoked the stories’ creation. Among these forces are Zapatista women, whom the translators rightly dignify in their meticulous and provocative introduction. This volume is a gift to so many of us as we (attempt to) bring the Zapatista imagination to our students and organizing communities.”
—Michelle Joffroy, associate professor of Spanish and Latin American & Latino Studies, Smith College and co-director of Domestic Workers Make History
“Thinking through the heart. This collection reminds, (re)grounds, and expands our collective sense of possibility—as the Zapatistas so creatively have continued to do for over 27 years. From the alter-globalization movements to the horizontal assemblies in Argentina of the early 2000s, to Occupy and the Movements of the Squares in the 2010s, through our pandemic solidarities and mutual aid networks in the 2020s, prefigurative, autonomous and affective movements continue to move with the Zapatistas in our hearts and minds. The influence and inspiration is beyond words, yet this collection gives words, placing crucial stories of the Zapatista communities in historical context, giving us more lenses through which to see the world and our movements within it.”
—Marina Sitrin, author of Everyday Revolutions: Horizontalism and Autonomy in Argentina
“On January 1, 1994, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation not only had the nerve to stare down the proclaimed End of History and launch a war against the Mexican government, a war against neoliberalism, and a war against racial and patriarchal capitalism in all its forms—while, in the process, recuperating tens of thousands of acres of land that was stolen from the Indigenous peoples of Chiapas—but they did all this with a sense of humor, with poetry, and with, in a word, literature. Zapatista Stories for Dreaming An-Other World, expertly translated by the Colectivo Relámpago, offers an excellent introduction to, and commentary on, the vast anti-archive of the Zapatistas' other literature.”
—John Gibler, author of I Couldn't Even Imagine That They Would Kill Us: An Oral History of the Attacks Against the Students of Ayotzinapa
“Since they first captured my attention in 1994, the EZLN’s struggle and the writings of Subcommandante Marcos/Galeano have been a constant source of hope and inspiration. During our current time of monsters, the stories that form this wonderful ‘accidental archive of Zapatista struggle’ invite us to once again embrace radical hope; to work for futures yet to be born; to affirm, yet again, that other more just worlds are indeed possible. Revolutions have come and gone, to paraphrase Emiliano Zapata, but the EZLN keep on with theirs.”
—Alexander Aviña, author of Specters of Revolution: Peasant Guerrillas in the Cold War Mexican Countryside
“Weaving ancestral tales and memories from the time of colonial domination with the recounting of the high points of the Zapatista insurgence, this book is a powerful example of historical narrative and myth making. It bears witness to the creativity of the Zapatista movement, and how the defense of indigenous tradition can be the lever for the construction of a new world.”
—Silvia Federici, author of Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation
“Zapatista Stories for Dreaming An-Other World, is more than the English translation of Los Otros Cuentos written by Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos, it is a poetic and political dialogue between Zapatista thought and the historical contextualization of a group of activist translators inspired by the struggles of the indigenous peoples from Chiapas. The members of the Lightning Collective make a hemeneutics reading of the Zapatista fables, from a profound knowledge of the stories of resistance in the Maya region.
—R. Aída Hernández Castillo, author of twenty-two books including Multiple Injustices: Indigenous Women Law and Political Struggle in Latin America
About the Contributors
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) was the Zapatista spokesperson until May 2014, when the Zapatistas decided that his role had come to an end. While “Marcos” disappeared, he was reborn under a different name: Subcomandante Galeano, again adopting the name of a fallen comrade.
Colectivo Relámpago/Lightning Collective is a translators’ collective of Zapatista solidarity activists based in Amherst, MA.
JoAnn Wypijewski is an independent writer, editor, and journalist based in New York. Her work has appeared in numerous magazines, including Mother Jones and The Nation, and she is the author of the book What We Don't Talk About: Sex and the Mess of Life.
Author: Subcomandante Marcos • Edited and translated by Colectivo Relámpago/Lightning Collective • Foreword by JoAnn Wypijewski
Series: PM Press / Kairos