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Anthropology Professor Analyzes Resistance Movement

Photo credit: Adrienne Pine, Taken from a resistance march in Honduras.

In her 2008 book, Working Hard, Drinking Hard: On Violence and Survival in Honduras, anthropology professor Adrienne Pine argued that the Honduran people face daily structural violence caused by the imposed processes of neoliberal institutions—from the privatization of necessary resources like water to the ongoing dispossession of land by tax-free industries and export-processing sweatshop factories—that perpetuate poverty and inequality.

But most of the Hondurans Pine interviewed for the book didn’t agree with her. “They didn’t think of their starving on a daily basis as a form of violence,” says Pine. “When I asked them why Honduras was violent, they gave explanations that broke my heart: ‘Honduras is violent because we haven’t progressed’ or ‘because we’re naturally more violent.’”

That was before last summer’s coup, when Honduran president Manuel Zelaya was ousted from the country’s government by the military. With the help of a College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Mellon Grant, Pine is back in Honduras this the summer, conducting post-coup interviews with Honduran citizens who are pro-coup, anti-coup, and in between. “The analysis of the Honduran resistance is much more in line with the analysis that I presented in [Working Hard],” says Pine. “People no longer point the finger of blame at themselves in the way that they did. I don’t know how sustainable that is but it’s really beautiful to see it happening.

In the year following the coup, Pine also studied the U.S. reaction to it. She attended numerous public and private meetings, conferences, and hearings from government and non-government institutions, as well as activist demonstrations. Based on her experiences, Pine argues that policymakers, lobbyists, and lawyers have repeatedly ignored—and in some cases supported—the presence of what she sees as oppressive military control in Honduras. “I’ve done a lot of field work where opinions are shaped and where policy is made, and it’s been terrifying seeing the ways our government functions to uphold anti-democratic systems,” says Pine.

Her findings have conjured questions for her about politics both at home and abroad. “The Honduran people are asking deep, central questions that we don’t ask in the United States, such as ‘What is democracy?’” says Pine. “I’m very interested in figuring out how to achieve democracy here in this country, and using the Honduran resistance movement as a model for that.”

Pine’s frequently updated blog, includes translated news articles, official statements, and personal accounts of her time in Honduras.