Padkos 115: Gustavo Esteva- in memoriam

POSTED ON July 5, 2022 BY admin


Mexican activist, ‘deprofessionalized intellectual’, and founder of the Universidad de la Tierra in Oaxaca, Gustavo Esteva, has died. He was a source of encouragement, inspiration and mutual learning for many movements, organisations and individuals around the world. People were able to learn with and from him – not only by direct contact but also through his writings, as well as the many networks of reflection, sharing and solidarity he championed. His ‘post-development’ radicalism resonated strongly with our own learnings about social transformation through the thought and action of ordinary people – especially where it sees (and breaks) through the false chimera of development and the terrain of the state.

About six years back, padkos had collaborated on a fantastic series of Trade School[1] classes initiated by Anne Harley (from the adult education section of the University of KwaZulu-Natal) in CLP’s base-town of Pietermaritzburg. This was picked up from the padkos mailing list by Mexico-based John Holloway. John immediately saw powerful similarities to Gustavo’s ‘Universidad de la Tierra’ in Oaxaca (Mexico). When he checked this out with Esteva himself, the response was quick and enthusiastic: “I can see immediately the connections between Unitierra and Trade School. Hopefully, we will start a solid exchange”. After some initial exploration, the social and personal context in Mexico at the time prevented the hoped-for collaboration – as Gustavo wrote us then: “Oaxaca is burning…and my personal life will also be very complex in these days…”.

In the lovely piece called “A Path to Freedom” that we’re sharing with this padkos mailing, Gustavo takes an autobiographical retrospective tour through his own life story of engagement, learning, critique and action. Written with his characteristic humour and razor-sharp analysis, you’re sure to enjoy it!

[1]     See the short description in “A padkos note about Gustavo Esteva”

A padkos note about Gustavo Esteva

Esteva A Path To Freedom

Esteva from The Development Dictionary