Furthermore, as we have seen, in the history of the Native commons we find the best, most concrete example of a commoning use of resources realized without any private property claim or exclusionary regulations.(…) According to Allen, the value Native people placed on freedom, lack of hierarchies, and egalitarian relations has been a major source of influence on not only socialist thought in Europe and America, but especially American feminism, an influence symbolically evoked by the gathering of the first feminist conference in the United States on what had been Indian land: Seneca Falls.
It is not, thus, a pure coincidence that the first reconstruction of a territory on the continent organized on the principle of the commons was realized by Native Americans- the Zapatistas- or that the Women’s revolutionary Law is central to their constitution, establishing a broad range of women’s rights that is unprecedented in any country.
The Women’s Revolutionary Law was adopted in the 1992 at the time of the Zapatista uprising. It stipulates seven key women’s rights, including the right to participate in the revolutionary struggle, as they desire and need to, to work and receive a just salary, to decide how many children they will have and care for, to participate in the affairs of the community and hold positions of authority, if freely and democratically elected, to education, to choose their partner, and to primary attention in matters of health and nutrition. (For the text of the Law see Zapatistas! documents of the new Mexican revolution (December 31, 1993-June 12, 1994. Brooklyn:Autonomedia 1994)
Introduction: Why Commons?
At least since the Zapatistas took over the Zócalo in San Cristobal de las Casas on December 31, 1993 to protest legislation dissolving the ejidal lands of Mexico, the concept of ‘the commons’ has been gaining popularity among the radical left internationally and in the U.S., appearing as a basis for convergence among anarchists, Marxists, socialists, ecologists, and ecofeminists.(…) The new enclosures’ have also made visible a world of communal properties and relations that many had believed to be extinct or had not valued until threatened with privatization.
(…) In this context the idea of the common/s has offered a logical and historical alternative to both the state and the private property and the state and the market, enabling us to reject the fiction that they are mutually exclusive and exhaustive of our political possibilities.
(…) markets too, the argument goes, depend on the existence of nonmonetary relations like confidence, trust, and gift giving. In brief, capital is learning about the virtues of the common good.
We must be very carefull, then, not to craft the discourse on the commons in such a way as to allow a crisis-ridden capitalist class to revive itself, for instance, as the environmental guardian of the planet.
from Global Commons, World Bank Commons
(…)Most important has been the creation of urban gardens, which spread across the country in the 1980s and 1990s, thanks mostly to the initiatives of immigrant communities from Africa, the Caribbean, or the South of the United States. Their significance cannot be overestimated. Urban gardens have opened the way to a ‘rurbanization’ process that is indispensable if we are to regain control over our food production, regenerate our environment, and provide for our subsistence.
The gardens are far more than a source of food security: they are centers of sociality, knowledge production, and cultural and intergenerational exchange.
One factor that encourages women’s role as custodians of the land and communal wealth is their greater role in preserving and transmitting traditional knowledge. As tejedoras de memoria, weavers of memory, as Mexican theorist/activist Mina Navarro puts it, they form an important instrument of resistance, because the knowledge they sustain and share produces a stronger collective identity and cohesion in the face of dispossession* The participation in the new movements of indigenous women, who bring with them a vision of the future shaped by a connection with the past and a strong sense of the continuity between human being and nature, is crucial in this context. With the reference to the ‘cosmovision’ that typify indigenous cultures in Latin America some feminists have coined the term ‘communitarian feminism’, where the concept of the commons is understood to express a specific conception of space, time, life, and the human body.
*Mina Navarro, Luchas por lo común:Antagonismo social contra el despojo capitalista de los bienes naturales en Mexico (Puebla:Bajo Tierra Ediciones, 2015), 248-264.
A further sign of rising feminist consciousness is the emergence of a new critical stance among indigenous women who are questioning the patriarchal structures that govern their communities, especially the transmission of land, which often occurs in a patrilineal fashion. This differential inclusion has major consequences, as Gladys Tzul Tzul, an indigenous scholar/activist from Totonicapán area of Guatemala, points out, as it affects “the registration of the family’s property, the guardianship pf the children, and the symbolic meaning of having children outside of marriage”