Manuel Callahan

Manuel Callahan’s work explores three interwoven areas: the US/Mexico border and borderlands historically and in the present; Indigenous struggles across the Americas including Zapatista struggles located in Chiapas; and convivial research, a community based research methodology that draws on engaged scholarship emerging from the Global South. His dissertation, “Mexican Border Troubles,” is a historical ethnography charting the social antagonisms that create the border and borderlands as a contested space. Elaborating on the border as a dispositif emerging through settler-colonialism and into the present, his study examines the production of subjectivities in relation to the border over a series of five conjunctures. Reading the violence and criminalization targeting ethnic Mexican and other Brown communities, Callahan’s work relies on W.E.B. DuBois’ concept of “democratic despotism” to demonstrate that borders are essential to the domestication of war and the production of racial subjects in service of capital. His engagement with Zapatista struggles places learning and research at the center of a “Zapatista civic pedagogy” carving a new space of political engagement and offering new ways to imagine and participate in the regeneration of community. Through a convivial research approach, Callahan draws together participatory approaches and militant research praxis to situate the community and its own regeneration at the center of investigations, where the questions emerging from community struggles hold within them the possibilities for “reweaving the social fabric” across landscapes fractured by militarization, racial violence, and forms of capital. He is a researcher with the Center for Convivial Research and Autonomy (CCRA) in San Jose and an insurgent learner with the Universidad de la Tierra Califas, an autonomous learning space connected to campuses in Oaxaca and Chiapas. He currently teaches in the Mexican American Studies Department at San Jose State University in San Jose, California.

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