Taking as a focal dilemma an issue drawn from the current negotiations between the Mexican government and the Zapatista rebels in Chiapas, my paper aims to comment on some of the political and ethical factors in play in metropolitan analyses of Latin America. At their best, such analyses manifest an awareness of the complex relation between colonial/neocolonial realities and a desire for transformative, ethical approaches. But these approaches are often built on a sense of guilt and on uncertainty about what theoretical tools it is appropriate to use and how they will impact on their objects of study. I pose the question of whether this guilt is self-serving and a further symptom of neo-colonial distortions or whether it can be turned to ethical and political ends and so help to reconfigure relations between Latin America and the metropolis. I briefly examine the project of the Latin American Subaltern Studies group as a potential model for research on the region before considering the complexities with which the Zapatista case confronts metropolitan analyses.
Last modified: 7 May 2001