Benjamin Fash 2018 Field Report
2018 CLAG Field Study Award Report:
Benjamin C. Fash, PhD Candidate, Graduate School of Geography, Clark University.
Project: Networked Community Economies as Alternatives to Extractivism in Honduras.
My dissertation research examines how alternative economies have emerged in spite of–and in response to–the current aggressive resource extraction agenda of Honduras. In the last decade, the Honduran state has sought to expand its extractive sectors (mining, forestry, industrial agriculture, energy, fisheries, and tourism) in a context of heavy militarization and little accountability for the human rights of those who oppose it. Yet, within this context, communities are successfully halting extractive projects and experimenting to make other worlds possible – promoting and practicing alternative ways to live well. My research probes the experiments themselves as well as the networking processes through which the ideas and practices that define them emerge and grow.
The CLAG Field Study Award provided travel funds to begin what will be 18 months of collaborative research with the Coalición Ambientalista de Copán. The Coalición is a grassroots organization formed in 2016 in response to mining concessions in Copán Ruinas. Through its public opposition to mining, the Coalition has joined national and regional indigenous, environmental, and feminist networks. Drawing from community-organizing experiences using video with the Coalición, I am working with them to produce documentary films examining different community economies that position themselves as alternatives to the extractivist national development model. As part of the initial process to discuss conceptual possibilities and join film/video production networks, we have participated in two events: the first workshop of the Escuela de Mujeres en Resistencia (EMUR) in August and the Coordinadora Latinoamericana de Cine y Comunicación de los Pueblos Indígenas (CLACPI) film festival in Guatemala in October.
EMUR is a four-year alternative learning project in which 40 women from Central America and Southern Mexico participate. The meeting took place in Vallecito, Colón, a Garífuna territory recently recovered from occupation by a palm oil company and drug cartel. Vallecito is a hub of experimentation with alternatives for the Organización Fraternal Negra de Honduras (OFRANEH). Following the meeting I was invited to join the organizing committee for EMUR, which also includes Dr. Xochitl Leyva Solano, my external dissertation committee member.
The CLACPI film festival, this year called FICMAYAB’, was organized around similar themes, and produced on a larger scale with a public focus. Issues around what it means to produce film from, for, and with communities were front and center, and it was invaluable to learn from numerous accomplished and emerging indigenous filmmakers over the course of two weeks.
I am grateful for CLAG’s support, which enabled me to begin my field work by participating in these two inspiring events. I am now in Copán Ruinas, Honduras, and along with Coalition members we are charting a path forward to produce several documentary shorts; one will document the history of how up- and down-stream villages in Copán have networked over the last three decades to protect and distribute water, resist mining, and develop alternatives. Analyses of such experiments will converge in my dissertation to speak to practical and theoretical questions within literatures on post-extractivism, community economies, and social movement networks.
Please see the full report for more information.