Dialectical Anthropology

, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 205–225 | Cite as

Crisis-management: Tzeltal-Maya transnational migration and the Foucauldian apparatus

  • Peter Anthony MancinaEmail author


This paper offers a Foucauldian analysis of Tzeltal-Maya transnational migration from Cañada Estrella, Ocosingo, Chiapas, to San Francisco, California, placing it within the context of North American neoliberalism. It asserts that Tzeltal-Maya migrants, through their creation of new transnational social relations, bring into articulation an informal neoliberal migration apparatus (a Foucauldian dispositif). This apparatus assembles and coordinates a variety of indigenous, ladino, and gringo strategies, techniques, tactics, and technologies for dealing with and harnessing the crises and opportunities presented by international capitalism. Such an apparatus functions in tandem and tension with neoliberal state apparatuses and produces a transnational neoliberal order in indigenous ejidos. Further, this paper demonstrates that this apparatus has allowed Tzeltal-Maya ejidos in the Lacandon Jungle greater degrees of autonomy from the Mexican municipal, state, and federal governments and the local rancher elite, while also making them increasingly interdependent with small businesses in the United States.


Mexican immigration Tzeltal-Maya Dispositif Apparatus Chiapas San Francisco 



Many thanks are due to Jan and Diane Rus for calling my attention to transnational migration as an emergent phenomenon that is rapidly transforming power relations throughout Chiapas. Thank you to the Programa de Investigaciones Multidisciplinarias Sobre Mesoamérica y el Sureste—Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (PROIMMSE-UNAM) who sponsored my research in Chiapas, to Educación Comunitaria Indígena para el Desarrollo Autónomo (ECIDEA), who introduced me to my initial sample population, and to the Vanderbilt College of Arts and Sciences for its funding support. Finally, thanks to Dr. Edward F. Fischer, Jan Rus, Zina von Bozzay, Rachel Riederer, and the anonymous reviewers for their reading of prior drafts indispensable to the development of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA

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