Ethnography and
It was as though, talking to me, a stranger, he had had to find a way of talking
about the unmentionable past.—v. s. naipul, A Turn in the South
The social world gives what is rarest, recognition, consideration, in other words,
quite simply, reasons for being.—pierre bourdieu, Pascalian Meditations
Popular uprisings can have many results (‘‘outcomes,’’ in the language
of social movement analysts) (Giugni, McAdam, and Tilly 1998, 1999):
they can force authorities to redirect resources (as happened after the
Los Angeles riots in 1992), they can make a deep impact on the politi-
cal system (as with the 1989 Venezuelan Caracazo), and they can lead
to a reinforcement of mechanisms of control and repression (as is now
happening in Argentina after the increasing wave of protests during the
1990s). Revolts can also change the life of people, or at least the way in
which they understand themselves. Think about Mario, the cop, whose
career was abruptly interrupted as a result of the Santiagazo; or about
Nana, whose life was, in her own words, ‘‘never the same again’’; or
about Laura, who got her house back after (and somehow as a result of)
the pueblada. Protest, we know, may have an effect on people’s biogra-
phies (McAdam 1999). Biographies, in turn, shape the ways in which
people make sense of protest. Nana’s and Laura’s actions, thoughts, and
feelings during the uprisings were deeply informed by their social tra-
jectories. Throughout this book, I have showed how, in the streets and
roads of Santiago and Cutral-co, Nana and Laura drew on elements of
their lives to take action and to make sense of it. I argue that we cannot
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