In a short, fascinating piece at Guerrilla Translation!, Madrid-based journalist Bernardo Gutiérrez shows how the collaborative practices of pre-capitalist indigenous peoples are not so different from post-capitalist practices of crowdfunding, open source software and peer production.
“The native peoples anticipated the much-touted sharing economy by a few centuries," writes Gutiérrez. "While the current global crisis pushes capitalism towards an irreversible mutation, our vision of a post-capitalist future is remarkably similar to the pre-capitalist origins of indigenous America.”
He notes that the Spaniards had many words for the commons in 1492, and pre-Colombian Latin Americans had their own terms for collaborative practices:
Tequio, a term of Zapotec culture describes community labor or material contributions to help finish a construction project for collective benefit.
Minga, a Quechua term used in Ecuador and the north of Perú, describes collective work. The word has a connotation of “the challenge of overcoming selfishness, narcissism, mistrust, prejudice and jealousy.”
Mutirão, a term from the Tupi in Brazil, describes “collective mobilizations based on non-remunerated mutual help.” The term was originally used to describe the “civil construction of community houses where everyone is a beneficiary” and the mutual help is offered through “a rotating, non-hierarchical system.”
Maloka is a term used to describe an indigenous communal house in the indigenous Amazon region of Colombia and Brazil – in today’s terms, a co-working space and knowledge commons.