American Ethnologist

Distant allies, proximate enemies: Rethinking the scales of the antibase movement in Ecuador



In this article, I analyze the processes by which transnational peace activists opposed to the U.S. military's largest “forward operating location” (FOL) in Manta, Ecuador, came to be read by some of that city's residents as more imperialist than the U.S. Air Force itself. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted between 2006 and 2008, I argue that this “inversion” was the product of disparate “scale-making practices” on the part of both activists and military officers. Whereas the former encouraged city residents to think of the facility as part of a global military network, the latter successfully pushed for more localized topographies and “geographies of blame.” Attention to these scale-making practices complicates social movement theory about “vertical scale shifts.”