Willem Assies died in 2010 at the age of 55. The various stages of his career as a political anthropologist of Latin American illustrate how astute a researcher he was. He had a keen eye for the contradictions he observed during his fieldwork but also enjoyed theoretical debate. A distrust of power led him not only to attempt to understand “people without voice” but to work alongside them so they could discover and find their own voice. Willem Assies explored the messy, often untidy daily lives of people, with their inconsistencies, irrationalities, and passions, but also with their hopes, sense of beauty, solidarity, and quest for dignity. This collection brings together some of Willem Assies’s best, most fascinating, and still highly relevant writings.
Willem Assies was an anthropologist who specialized in working with people who are usually excluded from academic, political, and policy conversations, mostly poor farmers in Latin America. This book anthologizes his work (he died at age 55 in 2010). He was known for the ability both to write as a theorist and to work directly with the people in question, deferring to their own voices, and for his ability to do both ethnographic work and political policy analysis. Part one looks at urban social movements in Latin America. Part two looks at agrarian issues. Part three looks at indigenous rights, particularly in relation to land. Part four looks at ethnicity and citizenship, and the final section examines political developments in Bolivia, where water resource problems threaten the basic infrastructure of the country. A different scholar who knew Assies and his work introduces each section. Annotation ©2014 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (protoview.com)