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Neoliberalism, Interrupted: Social Change and Contested Governance in Contemporary Latin America



Introduction and front matter to volume coedited with Nancy Postero, Stanford University Press (2013).
Advance praise for Neo li b eralism, Intemr.pted
"Mark Goodale and Nancy Posterot collection offers us a vivid panorama of
neoliberalism and its interruption, keeping in mind broader Pafierns of political
\--economic transformation and civil society struggle. The chapters forcefully
demonstrate neoliberalismt investment in violence and regulation, while
opening our eyes to civil society's spaces to challenge them. From Buenos Aires
to Venezuela from race to gender, this collection rePresents an important
theoretical and critical engagement with Latin America's current realities."
-Sarah A. Radcliffe, Universiry of Cambridge, author of
Indigenou^r Deaeloprnent in the Andzs: Cubure, Power, andTransnationalisrn
"Neoliberalisrn, Intenupted makes an imponant contribution to studying Latin
America's rapidly changing socio-political landscape. The volume's authors
remind us that the region presenrs a rich laboratory for experiments that defy
existing categories of social and political theory in contradictory, but potentidly
exciting new ways."
-Philip Oxhorn, McGill University, author of Sustaining Ciui.l Society:
Econornic Change, Denouacy, and the Social Constrqaion of
Citizenship in Latin America
"This book will resonate with all those interested in one of t-he most important
politicd questions for Latin America today. The authors resist the temPtation to
provide easy answers--rhe essays are subtle and effective, their sophistication
buttressed by empirical and theoretical rigor"'
--Sian Lazar, University of Cambridge, author of
ElAlto, Rebel City: Self and Citizenship in Andzan Boliaia
"This timely collection brings together diverse disciplinary perspecdves to
explore the limits of neoliberd governmentality in contemporary Latin America.
The contributors provide fine-grained, ethnographic analysis ofalternatives to
the '\Tashington Consensus,' bodr grandiose and grassroots, revealing in the
pfocess the promises and contradictions of 'post-neoliberal' political programs
and social projects"'
-patrick c. \rirson, university of Lethbridge, coediror of
Editing Edzn: A Reconsidzration of ld,entiE, Politics, and Place in Arnazonia
Social Change and Contested Goaernance
in Conternporar! Latin Ameri'ca
Edited by
Mark Goodale and Nancy Postero
Stanford University Press
Stanford, California
Stanford University press
Stanford, California
@zor3 by the Board ofTrustees ofthe Leland Stanford Junior University.
All rights reserved.
This book has been published with the assistance of the.Wenner_Gren
No part ofthis book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any
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Printed in the United States ofAmerica on acid-free, archival_quality paper
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-publication Data
Neoliberalism, interrupted : social change and contested governance in
contemporary Latin America / edited by Mark Goodale and Nancy postero.
Pages cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
-JSBN 978-o-8o47-8452-8 (cloth : alk. paper)_
ISBN 978-o-8o47-S49-y (pbk. : alk. paperj
r. LatinAmerica-politics and goveinment_r9go_ z. Neoliberalism_
Latin America. 3. Social change-iatin America. 4. Latin America_
Social conditions-tgïz- j. Latin America_Economic policy. L Goodale,
Mark, editor ofcompilation. II. postero, Nancy Grey, eàitor of compilation.
F4r4.3.N46 zory
98o.q-dc4 zorzo4gr4r
ISBN 978-o-8o47-864 4-7 (elecronic)
Tlpeser by ïTestchester Book Composition in ro.5/r1 Adobe Garamond
Editors and Conni butors
Revolution and Retrenchment: Illuminating the
Present in Latin America
Mark Goodale and Nancy Postero
z Boliviat Challenge to "Colonial Neoliberalism"
Nanc! Postero
3 Culture and Neoliberal Rationalities in
Postneoliberal Venezuela
Sujatha Fernandes
4 "En Minga por el Cauca": Alternative Governmenr
in Colombia, zoor-zoo3
Dauid Gow
5 Neoliberal Reforms and prorest in Buenos Aires
Marcela Cerrutti and Alejandro Grimson
6 "Taken into Account": Democraric Change and
Contradiction in Mexicot Third Sector
Analiese M. Richard
The first phase of the project that culminaæd in Neoliberalitm, Interru?t€d
was a lively and provocative international workshop held over several days in
May zoo8 at the University of California, San Diego. This meeting, orga-
nized around the theme of "Revolution and New Social Imaginaries in Post-
neoliberal Latin America," was made possible by the generous support of the
\(/enner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, and it is to the
foundation, its president, Leslie C. Aiello, and its conference Program associ-
ate, Laurie Obbink, that we owe our principal debt of gratitude. The continu-
ing support of the foundetion was critical to the further retnement of the
theoretical framework of the volume, which paved the way for the develop-
ment of the project into a cohesive book.
At the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), our gathering of
scholars was given the chance to engage in producdve conservations and so-
cial encounters in the delightful setting of the La Jolla campus and its envi-
rons. .We want to acknowledge, in particular, the participation of the Center
for Iberian and Latin America Studies (CILAS) and the Department of An-
thropology ar UCSD for their close collaborarion. During a crucial period in
rhe evolution of the proiect, the editors were given a chance to meet for a
Neoliberal Reckoning: Ecuadort Truth Commission
and the Mythopoetics of political Violence
Christopber Krupa
Care and Punishment in Latin America: The Gendered
Neoliberalization of the Chilean State
Wronica Schild
"Yes,'S7'e Did!" "iSï Se Pudo!": Regime Change and
the Transnational Politics of Hope Between the
United Sates and El Salvador
Elana Zilberg
Insurgent Imaginaries and Postneoliberalism in
Latin America
Miguel Angel Contreras Natera
week of intensive discussion at point ofview, the center for advanced studies
of the School of Confict Analysis and Resolution (S-CAR), George Mason
university, which is located in a nature conservancy.on the shores of Belmont
Bay, south of\Tashington, D.c. For this opportunitywe thank the adminis-
tration of s-cAR and, in particular, its former director, professor Sara cobb,
for her enthusiastic suppoft of this project and, more generallp the idea of
a critical ethnographic study of the life of neoliberalism in conremporary
Latin America.
\7e also must acknowledge the dedication of the authors of the volume
themselves. They gave much of their intellectual and professional energy ro
bring this book together through multiple rounds ofwriting and. revision. As
a group, they were deeply engaged and ready and willing to take up and help
to deepen a theoretical framework that crystallized over months and indeed
years.'we are also grateful ro flvo anonymous reviewers and to Roger Rouse
for comments on previous versions of these texts.
r7e were also fortunate to have the assistance of a number of graduate
studenrs over the years. At George Mason universiry, Adriana salcedo, in
pârticular, assisted in a number of important ways, providing first-
draft translations. At ucsD, Eli Elinofi Jorge Montesinos, paula saravia,
Devin Beaulieu, and Patrick Kearney were of great Éelp in thinking through
the issues, polishing the rranslations, and providing audiovisual suppo*.
Their enthusiasm helped enormously over the long germination of this proj-
ect. 'we thank Amy Kennemore for her excellent editorial assistance in the
final stages of manuscript production.
The editorial and production staffs at stanford university press have been
a joy to work with. Kate \wahl, publishing director and editor in chief of the
press, was an early supporrer of the projecr, and ro her we offer our deepest
appreciation. s7'e also received excellent assisrance arthe press from Emma s.
Harper and Frances Malcolm.
Finally, it is our pleasure to recognize the support of important people in
our lives. Mark would like to acknowledge the love and inspiradon of Ro-
mana, Dara' and Isaiah. Nancy thanls Jefffor his loving support; he is always
a peaceful refuge in the academic srorm.
Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra Améica
(Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas),
regional integration initiative for Latin America and the
Asamblea Nacional Constituyente (National Constituent
Assembly), Colombia
Allianza Republicana Nationalista (National Republican
Alliance), political party' El Salvador
Alfaro Vive Carajo (Alfaro Lives, Damn It), guerrilla
organization, Ecuador
Bloque Social Alternativo (Alternative Social Bloc), coalition
of progressive and left-wing organizations and social
movements, Colombia
Constituent Assembly
Central American Free Trade Agreement
Confederacidn General de Trabaj adores (General Federation
of 'Workers), Argentina
Partido Revolucionario Institucional (Institutional
Revolutionary Paity), political party, Mexico
Programa de Promocidn y Desarrollo de la Mujer
(Program for'S7'oment Promotion and Education),
Structural adjustment progr"*
Secretariat for New Experiences in Community
Education, Mexico
Servicio Nacional de la Mujer (National ïTomen's
Bureau), Chile
Transnational Anti-Gang unit, collaborative anti-gang
effort between the United States and El Salvador
Territorio Indigena Parque Nacional Isiboro Sécure
(Isiboro-Sécure Indigenous Territory and National
Park), Bolivia
\forld Trade Organization
Mark Goodale is associate profess-or of conflict analysis and anthropology at
George Mason University and series editor of Stanford Studies in Human
Rights. He is the author, editor, or coeditor of eight other books, including,
mosr recently, The Boliuia Reader: Cuhare, Historl, Politics (Duke University
Press, zor3), Hurnan Rigbx at the Crossroads (Oxford University Press, zorz),
Mirrors ofJustice: Law'and Power in the Post-cold war Era (cambridge uni
versity Press, zoro), Surrendering to Wopia: An Anthropology of Human Righr
(stanford university Press, zoog), Human Rights: An Antbropological Reader
(Blackwell, zoog), and Dilernmas of Modernity: Boliaian Encounters with Law
and Liberalisrn (stanrord University Press, zooS). He is currently writing a
new book based on research in Bolivia since zoo5 on constitutional revolu-
tion and the problem ofradical social change
Nancy Postero is associare professor of anthropol ogy at the Universiry of
California, San Diego. She is the author of Now Ve Are Citizens: Indigenous
Poli.tics in Post-Multicultural Boliuia (Stanford University Press, zooT) and,
with Leon zamosc, The struggtefor Indigenous Rights in Latin America (sus-
sex, 2oo3). she recently coedited a special issue of Latin American Research
Reaiew titled 'Actually Existing Democracies" (zoro). She serves as an editor
ror theJournal of LatinArnerican and caribbean Ethnic sndies (LACES). she
is currently completing a new book, Decolonizing Boliuia, focusing on politi-
cal conflicts and spectacular performances in plurinational Bolivia, includ-
ing analyses of the constituent Assembly, opposition hunger strikes, and
government-sponsored collective marriages.
Marcela cenutti received her PhD in sociology at the university of Texas,
Austin. she is now a research member of the National Council for Scientific
and Technological Research ofArgendna (cENEp-Argentina) and professor at
the National Universiry of General San Martin. Her areas of specialization are
international migration and gender and labor madiets in Latin America, and
she has numerous publications on these topics. Recently she has published
Heahh and International Migration: Boliuian wornen in Argentina and Di-
aided Families and Global cbaircs of care: south-American Migration in spain
(with Alicia Maguid). She serves as editor of the Reuista Latinoarnericana de
Miguel Ângel conrreras Natera is a sociologist and professor of social the-
ory in the school of sociology at the central university of venezuela (ucv).
He was the editor of the zoo6 volume Desarrollo,' eurocentrisrno y econômia
popalar: Mds alld del paradigma neoliberal (Development, Eurocenrrism, and
popular economy: Beyond the neoliberal paradigm). His most recenr work,
una geopolhica del espirin (A geopolitics of the spirit), published in zorr by
the Fundacidn centro de Estudios Latinoamericanos Rdmulo Gallegos, ex-
amines the contemporary relation between social movements and participa-
tory democracy in rhe conrexr of the enormous political and spiritual trans-
formations in Latin America and the Caribbean.
sujatha Fernandes is associate professor of sociology at Queens college and
the Graduate center of the city university of New York. she is the author of
Cuba Represent! Cuban Arts, State Power, and the Making af New Reuolution-
ar1 Cubures (Duke University Press, zoo6), Vho Carc Stop the Drums? (Jrban
social Moueznents in Chdaez's wnezuek (Duke university Press, zoro), and close
to the Edge: In Search of the Global Hip Hop Generation (Verso, zorr). She is
currently working on a new research project about social movements and
legislative advocacy in New York City.
David Gow is the Edgar R. Baker Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and
International Affairs at the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George
'Washington Universiry His principal publications include CounteringDeuelop-
ment: Indigenous ModernitV and the Moral Irnagination (Duke University Press,
zooS) and lrnplernenting Rural Deuelopment Projects: Lessons from AID and
\Yorld Banh Experience (with Elliott R. Morss) (\Testview, 1985). Since zoo5 he
has been conducting research on politics 4t the provincial level in Colombia,
focusing on the role of social organizations, social movements, and coalitions
in the creation and sustainabiliry of alternative public spaces and alternative
governments. In collaboration with a Colombian colleague, he has completed a
bookJength manuscript on the experience of alternative government in the
context of political violence, poverrF, and struggling democracy.
Alejandro Grimson is professor of anthropology at the National University
of General San Martin. Since his early studies of comunication at the Uni-
versity of Buenos Aires and in his PhD in anthropology at rhe University of
Brasilia, he has been invesigating migration processes, border zones, social
movements, political cultures, identities, and interculturality. His first book,
Rektos de la diferenciay la igraldad(Talesof difference and equality) (Eudeba,
1999) won the FELAFACS prize for the best thesis in comunication in Latin
America. After publishing edited volumes like La culrura en las crisis latino-
americanas (The role of culture in Latin American crises) (CLACSO, zoo4),
he was awarded the Bernardo Houssay Prize by the Argentine state. His book
La naciôn en sus lirnites: Interculnralidad I comunicaciôn (-Ihe limits of the
nation: Interculturality and communication) won the prestigious lberamèri-
cano Prîze from LASA in zotz. He is now an investigator at CONICET and
dean of the Institute de Social Studies at the National University of General
San Martin.
Christopher Krupa is assistant professor of anthropology at the University
of Toronto. His writings have appearedinAmerican Ethnologist, Cornltaratiue
Studies in Society and History, the edited volume Subabernity and Dffirence:
Reflecrionsfrom the North and the south (Routledge, zorr), and other publica-
tions. He is currently completing an erhnography of labor and desire in Ec-
uador's cut-flower industry and editing (with David Nugent) a volume on
state and parâstare complexes in the Andes.
Analiese M. Richard is associare professor of anthropology in the school of
International studies at the university of the Pacific. Her work has appeared
in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, the Political and Legal
Anthropology Reuiew, and the Journal of Latin Arnerican and caribbean An-
thropologT. Her latest research project examines cultures of citizenship, secu-
tity, and expertise in Mexico's food sovereignry movement.
veronica schild is associate professor ofpolitical science and director ofthe
centre for the study of rheory and criticism at the universiry of western
Ontario. She has published extensively on feminism and the women's move-
ment in Chile, on feminism and newmarket citizenship, and, more recently, on
feminism and the neoliberalizing srare. Her currenr research focuses on the re-
lation between institutional feminism and processes of neoliberal governmen-
tality, and shê is currently completing a book titled contrddictions ofûmancipa-
tion: Tbe Vornm's Mouernent, Culture, and the State in Contemporary Chile.
ElanaZilberg is associare professor in the Department of Communication
at the University of California, San Diego. Her book, Space of Detention: Tbe
Mabing of a Trans;national Gang Crisis Between Los Angeles and. San Saluador
(Duke University Press, zorr), is an ethnographic accounr and spatial analy-
sis of how transnational gangs became an issue of central conc€rn for na-
tional and regional security. In her newest project, Zilbergexamines the his-
torical and contemporary role of rivers in the racialization of space in San
Antonio, Tocas; Los Angeles, California; and the U.S.-Mexico border region.
Illuminating the Present in Latin America
Mark Goodale and Nancy Posrero
which Latin America, during the last decade, has be-
come a global laboratory. There, new forms of governance, economic struc-
turing, and social mobilization are responding to and at times challenging the
continuing hegemony of what the anthropologist James Ferguson Qoo6)
describes as the "neoliberal world order." Yet despite the fact that political
leaders in countries like Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Venezuela articu-
late these responses in the language of revolution, these mosr radical of re-
gional experiments remain outliers, the exceptions that prove the general rule
that the global consolidation of late capitalism through neoliberalism has
been merely, if revealingly, interrupted in Latin America. Nevertheless, we
argue that these interruptions have important consequences and reveal new
horizons of possibility-social, political, economic, theoretical-within a
bro"âer, post-Cold \Var world in which many of the traditional alternatives
to late capitalism and neoliberal forms of governanc€ have lost ideological
legitimacy and in which even the idea of revolution itself-with its mytho-l
logicalinvocations ofradical change, righteous violence, and social and moral
renewal-is often seen as an anachronism.
At the same time, we also examine the problem of widespread retrench-
ment of neoliberalism in Latin America, a set of processes that both brings
into starker conrrasr the signiûcance ofthe exceptional challenges to neoliber-
alism and underscores the ways in which neoliberal forms of governance and
social life have become ideologically detached from their historical contin-
gencies. \Tithout the ever-present specter of the cold rwar looming over on-
going struggles over land, racism, and political marginali zation, it has be-
come more dificult for social and political radicals in Latin America to bring
home the point that the assumptions and srrucrures that perpetuate different
forms of inequaliry are not inevitable. Indeed, as we will see, neoliberal gov-
ernmentality in Latin America is as naturalizing as elsewhere. Even the most
robust and earnest provocations ofthe conditions that produce vulnerability
come up against the lingering efi,cects of the \Tashington consensus in Latin
America, through which regional political economies came into a forced align-
ment around market democratization, the withdrawal of the state from service
secrors, trade liberalization, and the codification of a high-liberal properry-
rights regime that extended legal inequalities into nertr areas like intellectual
property and biogenetics (see, e.g,, Dezalay and Garth zooz; Oxhorn and
Ducatenzeiler 1998).
If in its broadest reach our volume is a critical study of one slice of the
contemporary life of neoliberalism in Latin America,, it is perhaps nor sur-
prising that we have chosen to bring together a diverse group ofscholars and
intellectuals, both Latin American and Latin AÉericanist, who present a
range of disciplinary regional, and theoretical perspective s. Neoliberalisrn,
Interrupted revolves around case studies ofthe everyday lives ofpeople and
their institutions, caughr up in moments of social change and processes of
contested governance. The volume's perspectives move between the grounded
experiences of neoliberalism in Latin America and more synthetic reflections
on meaning, consequence, and the possibility of regional responses to neolib-
eral hegemony and the articulation of formal alternatives to ir. These perspec-
tives are enriched by the critical voices of several prominent Latin American
researchers and writers, one of whom (the Venezuelan sociologist Miguel
Ângel Contreras Natera), in a provocative postscript to the volume, produc-
tively obscures the line berween politics and scholarship, manifesto and intel-
lectual inspiration, in a full-throated and deeply theorized plea for a new
kind of politics in Latin America.
Taken together, the different critical studies in the volume demonstrate
the ways in which the history and politics of contemporary Latin America
carry important lessons for scholars, activists, and political leaders in other
parts ofworld with similar histories and structural conditions, including lega-
cies of extractive colonialism and neocolonialism, the influence of Cold'War
proxyism, interethnic confict, strong regional identity, and traditions of in-
stitutional instability. In this way, rhe volume adds its coilective voice ro a
growing debate on the meaning and significance of responses to neoliberal-
ism in Latin America and beyond (see, e.g., Arditti zoo8; Escobar zoro; Gu-
dynas, Guevara, and Roque zooS; Hershberg and Rosen zoo6; Macdonald
and Ruckert zoog Panizza zoog). This body ofwork reveals a spectrum of
responses to what can be described as "mâruring neoliberalism," from a Bo-
livian revolution that is framed as a formal rejection of neoliberalism, ro
Colombia's deepening recommirment to the full suite of neoliberal social,
political, and economic practices.
'Where our volume diverges most starkly from this ongoing critical con-
versation is in the way our case studies lead to a thoroughgoing skepticism
about the conventional dichotomies that are used to make sense of social
change and contested governance in Latin America: neoliberalism vs. social-
ism; the Right vs. the Left; indigenous vs. mestizo; national vs. transnarional.
Instead, we focus on the ways in which a range of unresolved contradictions
interconnects various projects for change and resistance to change in Latin
America. There is no question that "neoliberalism" remains a powerful dis-
cursive framework within which these different moments of crisis and even
rupture play out. But our volume suggests that a new ideological landscape
is coming into view in Latin America and that it has the potential to dramati-
cally reorient the ways in which social and political change itself is under-
stood, conceptualized, and practiced in the region and beyond.
The present in Latin America is marked by both exrraordinary moments of
social, political, and economic experimentation and moments ofviolent resis-
tance and retrenchment. And yet the case studies in this volume resist most
ofthe easy dialectics that have provided ana\y'ticalcover for those who seek
to encompass Latin America within the grand and all-too-often reductive
sweep, Ifit is true, as lTalter Mignolo (zoo5b) algues, that the space of "Latin
America" must be apprehended first and foremost as a contested idea, then it
is also true that there are multiple strategies for illuminating thii ever-shifting
and highly fraught idea. 'we agree with Mignolo that the integrarive geospacial
concept of "Latin America" remains relevant and indeed, over the last decade,
has been even more so. However, we also believe that the kind of coherence
Mignolo urges can be understood only through clqse engagemenr r'ith actual
points of crisis, from the grand (the "refounding" of Bolivia through consritu-
tional reform) to the less visible (the creation oflocal dwelopment alternatives
in rural colombia), from the urban and deeply national (the emergence of a
new class ofworking poor in Chilet cities) to the transnational (the construc-
tion of transborder policing strategies between El Salvador and the united
states). As Perreault and Martin suggesr, neoliberalism produces locally spe-
cific and scalar expressions (zoo5).
For the remainder of this chaprer, we drarr together the collective lessons
from the book's chapters. Taken together, they de*onrtrate that I,atin Amer-
ica has emerged over the lasr twenty years as a leading edge of social, politi-
cal, and economic possibility at the same time that specific regions and
countries of Latin America reflect the intractability of a range of historical
legacies of structural vulnerability. Indeed, the case studies in the volume il-
luminate the ways in which the currents of neoliberalism create new forms of
contestation while simultaneously choking off other possible ideologies and
programs for radical social change. This means rhat in conremporary Latin
America, real challenges to the "neoliberal world order" coexist with and
even reinforce enduring patterns ofexploitation and violence,
Fractured tectonics
he characterizes es "fractured tectonics." \fhat he means is that the conrem-
porary examples of experimentation and contestarion in contemporary Latin
America are closely entwined with both previously and actually existing ide-
ologies and exploitative practices they seek to overcome. This is not a simple
dialectics, however, since the relationship between what he calls "insurgent
imaginaries" and their hegemonic antitheses is both variable within different
regions and histories of Latin America and much less predictably unstabie.
Even in the most selÊconsciously revolutionary nations of Latin America,
namely venezuela and Bolivia, the discursive frame is in fact quite ambigu-
ous since the clarion call for radical social change is at least in part dependent
on the language and logics of existing frameworks of governance, economic
relations, and social and cultural practices.
In order to undersrand these multiplé fractured recronics empirically, we
must adopt an archaeological methodology that seeks to reveal the ways in
which these insurgent frames interpenetrare the national neoliberalisms whose
legacies suggest their own contradictions and possibilities. Indeed, as rhe con-
tributors to this volume demonstrare, the essential task of the critical observer
of contemporary Latin America is to clear a path among the rubble that is
created when these discursive layers shift, often violently, in order ro answer
more fundamental questions: \fhat really are the meaningful challenges to
neoliberalism now? Are rhey in the melding of human rights discourse with
revolutionary socialism, as in Bolivia? Are they in the rnore gradualist and
compromising constitutional reforms of Ecuador? Or are they in the hybrid
socialist anti-imperialist nadonalism of Châvezt Bolivarian venezuela? Con-
versely, does the conservative neoliberal deepening in Peru, Chile, Colombia,
and much of Central America, including Mexico, stand apart from the pro-
cesses of insurgence elsewhere, or does it, in a sense, bracket them?
Moreover, as David Gow (Chapter 4) illustrates, examples of challenges ro
the hegemony of maturing neoliberalism in Latin America can be found
on very small scales indeed, even within a srate like Colombia, whose major-
ity politics have, for the time being, definitively rejected the possibiliry of
something like a Bolivian refoundarion. Moreover, although the constitu-
tionalist reform momenr of the eady r99os seems like a disrant memory now
Gowt study points to the development of modest alternatives in the inter-
stices between the summarizing discursive frame of the nation-state and the
In the postscript to the volume, Conrreras Natera argues that the disjunc-
the Fuerzas Armadas Reyolucionarias de colombia (FARC). Interstitial chal-
lenges like these are usually ignored or obscured, yet their meanings and
i-foit"rr.e can, as here, be illuminated by the ethnographic spotlight'
Neo li b eral connadictions
'sV'ithin colonial societies, domination was framed by discourses of race in
which indigenous peoples were considered either dangerous savages or chil-
dren in need of stewardship (Hall1996). Moreover, throughout the colonial
period, tensions in extractive and plantation forms of accumulation produced
conflicr, as indigenous and slave communities periodically resisted their struc-
tural oppression (James 1989; Serulnikov zool;, Ste rn r99i; Thomson zooz)'
These conrradictions were not resolved by the formal end of colonialism
in Latin America in the first part of the nineteenth century. As they pushed
for independence from Spain and Portugal, creole elites adopted the liberal
ideas of the European Ënlightenment' Anxious to break with coercive forms
of governance and social control, the new Republican states sought liberal
solutions to the rensions underlying colonialism, especially the constant threat
of ethnic mobilization. As Brooke Larson argues in the case ofAndean elites,
the effort to recreate colonial societies in terms of liberalism faceda funda-
mental paradox: mesrizo elites looked to "imptse universal definitions of free
labor and citizenship, as well as to mold national cultures into homogenous
wholes (along Eurocentric ideals), while creating the symbols and categories
of innate difference in order to set the limits on those 'universalistic' ideals"
(Larson zoo4, $).The goal, she suggests, was to "build an aPParatus of power
that simultaneously incorporated and marginalized peasant political cultures
in the forced march to modernity'' (ibid', r5)'
Liberalism promised universal belonging' yet it was accompanied by a
new form of race thinking that merely reôrganized "colonial hierarchies
subordinating Indianness . . . to the Creole domain of power' civilization'
and citizenship" (Larson zoo4' 14; see also Mehta 1997)' Thus' the promises
clusion that cut along racial, ethnic, and intraregional lines and then took
result of .,rhe colonial-modern logos," the dominant epistemoiogical and dis-
cursive framework for ordering social relations in the wider colonîal world'
Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, various resPonses to
the paradoxical exclusions of liberalism have marked Latin American hisrcry
"nipoli i., (see Goodale 2oo9; Postero zooT)'At the turn of the twentieth
century, the zâratevillka rebellion in Bolivia reprised the insurgencies of
th" pr.lrioo, century, demonstrating that indigenous demands for land and
auronomy had still not been met (Egan zooT; Rivera Cusicanqui r98/' Pop-
ulist revolutions, such as those in Mexico (r9Io), Bolivia ft952), cuba (i959),
unequal l"itd ."nrrr. and deepening class divisions (Hale ry94; Klein r99z;
fnight r99o)' By the r96os and r97os, decades of development efforts had
failed to increase the standards of living for the majority of Latin Americans'
and the need to address structural inequalities through agrarian reform and
the redistribution ofnational resources took on new urgency'
In some countries, popularly elected governments-like Allende's in
Chile-undertook these reforms' In others-like Peru' El Salvador' and
Guatemala-communist social movements in the vernacular resisted liberal
reforms and instead pursued revolutionary guerrilla war and the politics of
structural ar"rrrfor**ion in terms of a theory of history marked by cycles of
conflict (Degregori r99o; Stern 1998; Stoll 1991; \ilood zoo3)' Many of these
movements were in turn violently disrupted by a wave of military dictator-
ships that s\MePt across the region in the r97os and r98os' The end of the Cold
legacies ofrevolutionary struggle and the violence ofstate repression continue
forms of governance in contempo ruty Latin America'
The r98os and r99os saw the crystallization of neoliberalism as the domi-
nant economic and political paradigm' As David Harvey argues:
Neoliberalism is in the first insrance a theory of political economic practices that
strong private proPerty rights, free markets' and free trade' The role ofthe state is to
create and preserve an institutional framework appropriate to such practices. (Har-
vey 2oo5,2)
In other words, neoliberal governance assumes that the stete has a key role to
play in capitalist accumularion by diffusing market logics throughour soci-
ety. This process has taken different forms across Latin America. ElanaZil-
bergt contribution to this volume (Chapter 9) underscores the violence rhat
often accompanies the diffusion of market logics. She describes rhe contexts
of these struggles as "neoliberal securityscapes" and examines the ways in
which unruly outliers are both constructed and disciplined in these ambigu-
ous social and political spaces.
Neoliberalism in Latin America is also constiruted through "market democ-
tacy," a "purposeful construction and consolidation of neoliberalized state
forms, modes of governance, and regulatory relations" (Peck and Tickell zooz,
l8+). This form of governance emphasizes technocratic administration and the
passing of the responsibiliry for governing from the state to'local actors and
nongovernme ntù, organizations (NGOs). Scholars have argued that a central
element of neoliberal governance is the encouragement of a civic idendry in
which individuals are urged to take responsibiliry for their own behavior and
welfare (Foucault r99ra; Rose 1996; Postero zooT; Rudnyclryl zoog). Veronica
Schild (Chapter 8) argues that, in Chile, these forms of governmentalirF are vis-
ible through two expressions of what she calls an "enabling state." First, the
"caring state" targets subjects-especially poor wsrnsn-ard teaches them to
be responsible citizens who are able to stand up and make their rights count,
exercise their choices as consumers and workers, and make demands upon the
state for support in health, pensions, and education. Second, the "punitive state"
disciplines those workers who do not comply or who are deemed dangerous.
Legacies of dffirence and exclusion
Historical legacies of difference and exclusion continue to shape the experi-
ences and consequences of neoliberalism in Latin America. As Patrick\Wilson
argues, neoliberalism in Latin America continueô to be intertwined with rac-
ist social and state practices and stubborn ideologies of modernizations and
progress (zoo8, ry9), There are several implications of this specific history in
the present. First, where alegacy of ethnic or racial exclusion exists, this exac-
erbates the social costs of neoliberal policies and can come ro ground move-
ments of resistance. Second, groups with strong cultural identities can use
them as resources for formulating alternatives to neoliberalism. Finally, where
subversive discourses of ethnicity or race explicitly frame projects for social
change, this heightens existing economic or political conflicts and increases
the chances that these conficts will spiral into cycles of deep social crisis or
In Chapter z, Postero examines the ways in which neoliberal reforms
were extended in Bolivia in the mid-r98os under President Gonzalo Sânchez
de Lozada, whose government privatized state-owned enterprises, slashed
social services, and lowered barriers to foreign capital and commodities. The
result was increased unemployment, especially of miners; a massive migration
from rural âreas to the cities, as farming became unsustainable; and greater
poverty. This period also saw growing organization and activism by indige-
nous and peasant groups, who linked their ethnically articulated demands for
territory and recognition to the social consequences ofneoliberal policies.
The Bolivian economic reforms were also paired with a set of neoliberal
multicultural reforms that encouraged participation at the municipal level.
Even rhough racism frustrated indigenous efForts to force the redistribution of
significant resources, indigenous activists were able to take advantage of the
political reforms to form their own political parties and to begin articulating
alternative proposals based on their own cultures and cosmouisiones, or wôrld-
views. In zooy after five years of protests by a population exhausted by the
effects of neoliberalism, Bolivians elected their first selÊidentif ing indige-
nous president, Evo Morales. Postero argues that the powerful discursive link
between antineoliberalism and decolonialization has served to legitimate the
MAS (Movement Tov/ard Socialism) government's agenda to its indigenous
constituents despite ongoing resource extraction on indigenous lands and
neoliberal engagement with the global market.
David Gowt study of an indigenous local government in
wise reveals the importance of ethnicity in framing responses to neoliberal-
ism. Gow explains how struggles during the Constituent Assembly of r99t,
increasingly militant indigenous and campesino organizing in the following
decade, and the political participation of recently demobilized guerrillas all
"nmhin.rl tn en"hle en indigenorrs qovernof to take oower in the Colombian
department of cauca and push for a participatory development project that
provided a hopeful alternative to the neoliberal (and corrupt) satus quo. This
case study reinforces the perhaps obvious but nevertheless important point
that responses to neoliberalism take root within particular social and political
landscapes. In this particular region of Colombia, a long and successful his-
tory of indigenous and peasanr organizing within a broad coalition of actors
created the preconditions for the formation of a new model of local and re-
gional governance.
Neoliberal uiolence
In Chapter g,ElanaZi\berg argues that the specter of the Cold \?'ar enemy of
the state, the Farabundo Marti para la Liberacidn Nacional (FMLN) guerrilla,
continues to haunt neoliberal El Salvador in a new form: the transnational
gangster-as-terrorisr. The social fear of this transfigured enemy of the neolib-
eral state has allowed the Salvadoran governmenr to adopt draconian security
and policing regulations inspired by the United States. Even more, rhis rrans-
national state ofexception has allowed Salvadoran elites to continue to benefit
from their support of the United States and its military and economic inter-
ests in the region. In Chapter 4, David Gow likewise demonstrares thar even
when Colombian activists are able to formulate.clear-if local-algssnasiyes
to the state's neoliberal agenda, their abiliry to sustain such structural alter-
natives is much diminished in a conrext of institutional state violence.
Violence also shapes the ways in which memory and history are subject to
reinterpretation within neoliberalism. As Chris Krupa explains in Chapter 7,
the president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, has used a newly uncovered history
of neoliberal violence ro supporr his transition to a "posrneoliberal" epoch.
Formed by Correa just three monrhs after taking ofûce, Ecuadort rruth com-
mission was given the curious charge of investigating human rights abuses
committed twenty-five years earlier. The commission's extensive research ex-
posed a public secret lurking in Ecuadort past: that during the eadyyears of
the administration of Ecuadort neoliberal "founding father," President Leôn
Esteban Febres-Cordero, the government unleashed a wave of terror, first
against a small and largely symbolic guerrilla organization and then against
all perceived opponents of the regime. Krupa argues that the revelation of
rhic .'iolent nâsf lvâc r nê.ccsârv cnmnlication of F,crradort renrttation as an
"island of peace" in the region, but he also draws arrention to the effects this
historical reconsrruction is having in the presenr moment of social change.
The commissiont investigations construct a richly analytic narrative that folds
Ecuador's broader experience of neoliberalism into the violence used to insti-
tutionalize it-marking the period with indisputable evidence of its conse-
quences right when support for an oppositional agenda was mosr needed by
the Correa governmenr.
Similarly, Veronica Schild (Chapter 8) argues thar, in Chile, neoliberal
actors beyond the state d.ploy a kind of symbolic violence in the way their
work redefi.nes acceptable categories of subjects by targedng cerrain behav-
iors and punishing orhers. She examines how feminist NGOs single out poor
women for intervention and urge them to become responsible consumers and
service workers in Chilet globalized capitalist economy. Those who succeed
receive aid; those who do not are punished and left to be swept into the grow-
ing private prison system. At a broader level, Zilberg shows how neoliberal
categorie! of inclusion and exclusion, which depend on particular under-
standings of legal and illegal subjectivity, circulate transnarionally between
El Salvador and the United States. "Illegal aliens," deportees, and gang youth
are, in a sense, essential to the purposes ofa transnational zero-tolerance po-
licing regime that punishes those who defy neoliberal logics of individual
Patterns of accumulati.on and exltloitation
within and beyond. neoliberalisrn
The chapters in the volume also reveal to different degrees the ways in which
particular regimes of accumulation affect the production of responses to neo-
liberalism in Latin America and are reworking class relations in the process.
In Colombia, Gow argues, indigenous activists who have struggled for
decades to obtain land rights now have suficient class legitimacy to capture
governing positions and push for indigenous notions of development. In
Ecuador, the hacendado class has been transformed into a new political and
economic elite through ownership of nontraditional export processes, while
their former indigenous p eones have become the new working class. The old
contradictions ofrace and land are no\M being debated through the idiom of
citizenship, often in harsh and sometimes violent ways.
The chilean and salvadoran cases also uncover new class struggles. schild
describes the transformation of the Chilean economy under neoliberalism,
where industrialization based on cheap labor and increased consumption
destroyed rural production and produced a new class of urban poor. More-
over, as Zilbery explains, in the transnational circuit between the United
states and El salvador, a posrrvr/ar economy dependenr on ttansnarional global
market relations produced new caregories of neoliberal subjects: poor mi-
grants, service workers, and "gang youth." Ar rhe U.S. border, those migrants
become "illegal aliens" and "disposable people" subject ro srate violence
(Green zou). Yet, those same forces have also produced a new transnational
class of migrant entrepreneurs who return to their countries of origin to
wield much more political and economic power than they could have prior to
immigrating (see also Pedersen zorz).
Shifting categories ofclass also reorient the relationships ofother actors
working for social change. In her chapter on NGOs in Mexico, Analiese
Richard (Chapter 6) argues that NGOs are oftep eirher criticized for being
"Trojan horses" for market-oriented forms of subjectivity and social action
or celebrated as incubators of democratic values and practices. However, this
dichotomy ignores the complexity of the specific polidcal and social rerrains
these civil-society actors inhabit. Richard rraces rhe historical development
of the NGO sector in Tulancingo, Mexico, and reveals important contradic-
tions berween the class orientation of the organizations' founders and their
populist aims, ds well as srrong connections between NGOs and political
elites. She argues that, as a result, Mexican NGOs have been forced ro nego-
tiate with a variety of actors within and beyond ih. ,t"t in their own quesr
to be "taken into accounr" in policy decisions that afecr them and their con-
stituents; this, she maintains, in rurn profoundly limits the capacîty of local
NGOs to openly challenge the neoliberal model. Schild makes a related ar-
gument about feminist NGO workers in Chile. She suggests that the neolib-
eral reforms of the past rwenry years have resulted in rhe resroration of capiral-
ist class power and conrrol. One troubling effect ofthis has been the morphing
of many on the Left into what we might call "the managerial Left"*those
concerned more with pragmatic politics than wirh earlier agendas of sweeping
social change.
These cases all demonstrate that Latin America is symptomatic of a
dynamic that scholars have been describing more generally: that global late
capitalism has produced new and rapidly changing class relations (comaroff
and comaroff zooo, zoo6; Robinson zoo6). Although these often come ro
supersede previous class formations, many of rhe contradictions of the past
are retained and reconrextualized into new power struggles and divisions.
Moreover, it is becoming increasingly clear that there is no longer one un-
questioned model of neoliberal capitalism at work in Latin America. The
venezuelan and Bolivian experiments were a response to a truiy popular dis-
illusionment with the neoliberal model in Latin America. Might they be the
harbingers of a new epoch in which a radical postneoliberal politics is embed-
ded within and even dependent on the strictures of late capitalism? Both
states continue to rely on a development model based on aggressive exploita-
tion and global trade in naturd resources even as they legitimize market par-
ticipation by redistributing some resources to the population and developing
nonstate sectois of political acrion around social movements and regional
autonomy (Goodale n.d.; Gudynas zoro).
Sonzetbing old, something new
The chapters in the volume also uncover something surprising about the pos-
sibilities more generally for profound social change in the contemporaryworld.
To the extenr ro which meaningful challenges to neoliberalism are being de-
veloped in certain countries and in particular regions of countries in Latin
America, these challenges generate at least two kinds of categories of contra-
diction and conrestation. The first category, which we might call "a rransna-
tional entitlement regime," arises out of international discourses on citizen-
ship, human rights, and democratization. It is associated with new conflicrs
that are the product of the essential hybridity of social change in post-cold
r7ar Latin America, in which decades and centuries-old frameworks for ar-
ticulating grievances are no longer available and have been replaced by what
has now become a global language ofsocial change. This new rhetoric linking
human rights to social change and political evolution was first adopted dur-
ing the postapartheid transition in south Africa, It brings together variants
of democratizarion within a robust human rights framework that emphasizes
. ir.
economic equaliry, political participarion, srare responsibility, and the moral
dimensions of public life. As Richard A. \Tilson argues, this hybrid rhetoric,
which is heavily inflected by legacies of liberalism, has become "the arche-
rypal language of democratic transition" in many parts of the world (zoor, r;
see also Goodale zoog). Benjamin Arditti similarly describes a common par-
tern among Latin Americat Left, which he calls a "post-liberal politics" (Ar-
ditti zooS). And if this discursive framework for radical social change like-
wise shapes and brackets the current moment in Latin America, then it also
necessarily excludes as much as it engenders.
Moreover, this new global model for social change generates alternative
forms of conrestation, some of which are central and indeed compelled by
imperatives internal to the model itself and some ofwhich are caused by the
ways in which the model is imposed or implemênted within a transnational
sphere of activism and social reformism. In Latin America, the case of Bolivia
is paradigmatic. \7ith the reelection of Evo Morales in zoo9, the MAS gov-
ernment has now turned its attention to the daunting task of implementing
the nationt dizzyingly far-reaching new constitution. Even the most sympa-
thetic observers of Bolivia's constitutional revolution have expressed skepti-
cism about the possibilities for its full realization, and Bolivia's citizens con-
tinue to be deeply engaged in acrimonious debates about its meaning and
implementation. As Postero (Chapter z) demonstrates, the Morales govern-
ment has been opposed both by the elites on the Right and by indigenous
communities who have been supporters of the Morales regime.
Furthermore, as Sujatha Fernandes (Chapter 3) shows us, the beneficia-
ries ofstate-directed challenges to neoliberalism can be unpredictable. In the
çase of Venezuela, state rhetoric of resistance to U.S. imperialism is reinter-
preted by urban community activists as resistance to power itself, including
the power of the anti-imperialist Bolivarian state. Although their invocation
of the surging multitudes has been justly criticized for its ambiguity and
paradoxical lack of political form, Hardt and Negrit zooo manifesto against
empire did get something right, which the chapters in the present volume
reinforce in different ways: that populations empowered by the hybrid rheto-
rics of the post-Cold \Var era can be creatively subversive in ways that both
support and undermine the idea o.f the postneoliberal state.
Nonetheless, in the second category of contradictions and conrestation
generated by the range of responses to neoliberalism in contempo rary Latin
America, a categorylve might call a "regime of exclusion," we find somelhing
quite different: the resurgence ofconflicrs over structural rensions that have
their roots in colonial legacies ofinequality and exploitation. Even in coun-
tries like Bolivia, Venezuela, and Ecuador, enduring parterns of inequality in
land tenure and access to political power remain. Although the traditional
political class may have been displaced, "revolutionaries" have become a new
class of elites who have to be concerned with consolidating power even as
they exercise it in the service of revolutionary goals. \7hat is more, the logics
of global commodity markets mean that countries like Venezuela and Bolivia
must still play ball through the mechanisms of the public-private partnerships
that provoked so much social anger during the late r99os and early zooos.
Neoliberal and postneoliberal subject mahing
Apart from the ways in which the chapters in the volume reveal new parrerns
of social change and old legaciès of exploitation and vulnerability in Latin
America, they also bring us up close to the people whose lives are affected by
the fractured tectonics ofthe present. The ongoinglegacy ofneoliberaiism in
Latin America is one in which particular moral and cultural projects have
been shaped by the logics of neoliberal governmentality. Indeed, the moral,
political, and economic dimensions of the current conjuncture unfolding in
Latin American are intertwined in ways that both resonate more broadly and
appear highly specific when viewed through an ethnographic lens. And yet
the question of subjectivity is critical because in the end both the forces com-
pelling the retrenchment of neoliberalism and those offering alternatives must
be expressed in terms of categories of everyday lives that can be understood and
appreciated only through the ethnography ofthe helter-skelter ofsocial prac-
tice (Berlant zooT; Stewart zooT). '17'hat is so fascinating, in particular, about
what these chapters reveal on this question is the way in which subjectiviry it-
self, the process by which identity is performed, justified, and resisted within
or against state projects, is mirrored on both sides of the neoliberal moment.
Thus, in the countries that have entered a period ofconservative neolib-
eral resistance to broader political and economic realignment (e.g., Chile,
could not rolerare political obstruction. The resulr, as Schild discusses in the
case of the chilean stare, was the emergence of public-private partnerships,
dominated, however, by private transnational capital, which required the Latin
American state ro radically decentralize its functioning and social responsi-
bilities. Although the official fiaming of decentralization throughout Latin
America was almost always political-so-called market democracy as a fur-
ther and more advanced stage in a process of civilian rule and democratization
that began in the mid-r98os, for example-in fact, the most far-reaching and
indeed catalytic consequences of the "\Tashington Consensus" were ofren
economic and experienced by people at the level of prices, properry, resource
use, and basic social and human services (see Perreault and Martin zoo5).
There is no better example of this than the r999-zooo "water \Mar" in
Bolivia, in which the water concern in the Cochabamba Valley was priva-
tizæd and contracted to a multinational company, which promised the com-
ing of the holy trinity of cheaper prices, better infrasrructure, and better
customer service (see Olivera zoo4i Shul:.z zoog). In fact, the result was a total
upending of the social life of water provisioning, which had created. a sysrem
ofwater allocation based on local norms and nerworks. Even more dramatic,
the cost of water for customers rose by an averuge of 43 percent, leading to
widespread social unrest and the crystallization of antineoliberalism as a
framework for broader and later social mobilization (Shultz zoo9, rB).
Cerrutti and Grimson (Chapter 5) discuss the responses of social move-
ments to neoliberalism in Argentina, thus demonstrating another way the role
ofthe state has changed but not disappeared. They show how the focus of
urban social movements shifred from basic quesrions of housing and land
tenure in the r97os and r98os to d.emands arising from the massive unem-
ployment that accompanied the neoliberal reforms in the r99os. The creative
protests of neighborhood groups and unions of unemployed workers pushed
the Argentine state under Menem ro creare a narional works program that
employed millions at soup kitchens and community centers. They argue
that, rather than signaling the end of the welfare state, under neoliberalism the
Argentine state, by heavily subsidizing unemployment and offering food to
the indigent population, became more important rhan ever in the domestic
economy of poor households.
Colombia, Mexico, Peru), neoliberal subjectivity has become coextensive with
citizenship itselt something that for the time being makes rhe emergence
of alternative imaginaries unthinkable. However, in countries (e.g., Bolivia,
Venezuela, Ecuador) whose revolutionary governments selÊconsciously lo-
cate themselves on the other side of neoliberalism, a historical and discursive
conjuncture that might be rightly called "postneoliberal" (Grimson zooT),
subjectivity is no longer simply derived from the logics of neoliberal govern-
mentality. Insteâd, as nerv models of subject making that are based in an
ethics of social responsibility are promored, çhey come inro conflict with
subjectivities associated with broader-and earlier-regimes of exclusion.
Nevertheless, as Conrreras Natera argues in the postscript, this link be-
rween subjectivity and governance-or subjectivity as govenrrançs-çan [s-
come unstable during times of social and economic contradiction. He insisrs,
for example, that contemporary South America is riven by a continent-wide
fracturing that makes possible the emergence of a Hardt and Negri-like
multitude. And yet, as Fernandes explains in her chapter on public-sector
workers in Contreras Naterat same Bolivarian Venezuela, the moral proj-
ect of revolution reveals its own contradictions and can create unintended
social, political, and ethical forms. These new structures, in turn, modulate
the scope of revolution itselfi they bracket the outer limits of alternarives to
The role and i.deology of the state
The set of implications for understanding the conrested presenr in Latin
America relates to both the role and the ideology of the state. The volumet
chapters present a rich historical and ethnographic rapestry ofthe state and
suggest important lessons for locating the state in relation ro neï/ instru-
ments of social change and new rhetorics of resistance to the structures of
global capital.
To begin, it is important to periodize the rise of the neoliberal state. In
Latin America the neoliberal state was constituted quite intentionally through
a national-international-transnational nexus of actors who were faced with the
problem of how to make the notoriously centralized and centralizing Latin
American state more efficient and responsive within networks of capital that
In addition, although the policies ofthe neoliberal state that created the
greatest lines of division in Latin America were often economic, the decen-
tralization of the state was experienced as a retrear in other important spheres
as well. As Elana Zilbery argues, the El Salvadoran srare became unable to
control what many would argue is the primary function of the modern srare:
citizen security.(Moodie zoo6; Goldstein zoo4). Because of El Salvador's
legacy of civil war and its destructive aftermath, the country was particularly
susceptible to a political ideology ofdecentraiizâtion that required the stare
to divest itself of many of its obligations. However, what makes El Salvador a
kind of worst-case scenario is the fact that a fl.ow of immigration had been
created with the United States that allowed veterans of both civil and gang
'q/ars to cross national boundaries. This vibrant transnational criminality-
whose presence in El Salvador made life after the civil war traumaric in newly
violent ways-became the target of the intervention of U.S. and international
institutions, which ended up producing even more violence. Indeed, when
policing and the control of national borders cease ro fall strictly within the
competencies and obligations of the state, the very nature of the state is called
into question.
Thus, even in the cases of El Salvador and Chile, where neoliberalism has
been firmly consolidated, the state nevertheless remains vital. Indeed, a cen-
tral finding of this volume is that the state is often the key point of reference
in relation to which political, cultural, legal, and economic mobilization must
be articulated. This is true in countries where the state has become deeply
and unshakably neoliberalized (e.g., Chile, Colombia, Argentina); in coun-
tries where the state remained stubbornly centralized throughout the period
of neoliberal consolidation (e.g., Brazil, Costa Rica, to a lesser extent Para-
guay); and, perhaps most for our theoretical, if not ethnographic,
purposes, in countries where the direct challenge to neoliberalism and its
colonial antecedents was made both against and always in relation to the state,
which was understood as an enduring symbol of colonialist (if not colonial)
structures of exploitation and violence (e.g., Bolivia and Venezuela).
In the first group of countries, the classical neoliberal state reinforces
its own stranglehold on processes of political act'ivism and subject making-
among others-precisely as it delegates legal and moral responsibilities to
actors beyond the boundaries ofstate agencies and established political par-
ties. This hallmark of neoliberal gov€rnmenrality makes all citizens respon-
sible state actors even as they become actors of the state. Furthermore, when
all citizens, even (or especially) those who view their own projects in opposi-
tion to the state, become state actors, the possibilities for real challenges ro
state porMer can become severely foreshortened. A powerful and indeed poi-
gnanr example of this foreshortening can be seen in NTinifred ratet (zoo7)
study of the culture and politics of human rights activism in colombia. As
she argues, the colombian srate created a landscape on which nonsrate, hu-
man rights institutions could both proliferate and flourish. But as these NGos
became more and more rhe vehicles for witnessing and then expressing pop-
ular discontent with the ongoing culture of violence in colombia, they be-
came more and more intertwined with a srate thar had proven incapable of
moving from "symbolic" to "instrumental" efficacy, as Mauricio Garcia Vil-
legas has argued (r9y),In this wa1z, srare power increased by proxy.
In the second group of counrries, what the Chilean historian Claudio
véliz (r98o) calls "rhe centralist tradition in Latin America" aliowed rhe state
to consolidate its power even during the highpoint of the \Tashington consen-
sus in the r99os. The rerrear into a kind of democratic authoritarianism pro-
vided a model of stability through rhe late r99os and into the early zooos
for a region that was descending into greater levels of instability, even if this
fracturing was also a sign of popular discontenr and resistance. For Latin
American states in the throes of democratic authoritarianism, power was
concentrated not only in the traditional spheres and ways-landed property,
political exclusion, srare suppression of dissent-but also in new, less overr,
ways since the demands to soften and decentralize state power were so influ-
ential at a regional level. Either way, the power and inevitability of rhe state
were reinforced.
In rhe rhird group of countries, like Bolivia and Venezuela, the srate has
been reconstituted as an essential agent of social and political mobilization
and change even where "the state" itself had always existed as a "summariz-
ing key symbol" (Ortner ry71) of exploitation, exclusion, violence-that is,
everything that was to be eliminared through the processes o{ refundaciôn.
The revolutionary government of Châvez's Venezuela has established what
Arturo Escobar (zoro) calls a "neo-developmentalist" srate as the foundation
for experiments in postneoliberalism. Yet, as Fernandes (Chapter 3) shows us,
even as poor barrio residents contemplate open acts of cultural resistance
observable by the state, they at the same time rraffirm the essential role of the
Venezuelan state as the source of funding, political inspiration, and social
If this is true more generally of the arguably postneoliberal states in Latin
America (Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela), then postneoliberalism does not point
necessarily to awitheringaway of the state, as some in Boliviat hodge-podge
of social movement revolutionaries, in particular, were led to believe (see
Goodale n.d). As Postero (Chapter z) shows, this is also a source of great con-
sternation for Morales's critics. In the absence ofa legitimate post-W'estphalian
framework at the broader regional or even global level, the logics of the mod-
ern or liberal state will continue to provide the architecture within which
challenges to neoliberalism in Latin America must be made.
In order to understand both how powerful this model of the state contin-
ues to be and also how the new Bolivian constitution or the earlier Zapatista
Good Governance Councils (see Speed zooS) provide tantalizing glimmers
of the kind of "postliberal" future that scholars like Escobar envision, we be-
lieve it is important to draw a distinction berween tbe state and forms of gou-
ernunce.There is no question, as our volume demonstrates, that the (liberal or
modern) state continues to be the dominant Qrm of governance in Latin
America. But if a form of governance is a particular mode of social ordering,
then we can see the Bolivian constitutional experiment based on the visions
and demands of indigenous social movements and the Zapatista gov€rnânce
councils as forms of governance that are grounded in non- or postliberal log
ics. In the case of Bolivia, the very much still-emergent form of governance
that is expressed most clearly in the recent Law of Autonomy (zoro), while
embedded in the shell of the liberal state, is nevertheless a discursive and po-
litical expression of something quite differenu a profound challenge to the
interrelationship between state power and goveinance or, perhaps more ac-
curately, state po\ru'er as govetnaîce.
Much like the Zapatista juntas d.e buen gobierno that Speed writes about,
the Bolivian constitution offers a model of governance in which decision mak-
ing, rights, and obligations are radicallyhofizontalized and centrifugal; power,
in the'traditional sense, radiates ourward (not downward) through and in
relarinn r^ cnmmrrniries. erhnic erôlrDs. social movements, and local political
parties, however incipient. The result is a form ofgovernance that orders bur
does not conrol; is structurally plural and pluralizing; and is derived from an
ethics of social life-expressed. through the popular slogan uiuir bien, or,,to
live well"-rather than from the kind of biopolitics associated with the mod-
ern state. Yer, as Postero explains in her chapter, the process of implementing
this new form ofgovernance has generated its own tensions based on internal
divisions within the broader coalition of MAS supporrers and the compro-
mises necessary to continue extractive forms of economic development as a
precondition for social reform.
In his clarion call for new mobilizations of power and identity in Latin Amer-
ica, contreras Natere argues that alternatives to the hegemony of both the
neoiiberal state and market will not be of lasting conseqrience unless they are
preceded by what he calls a "dislocation in the foundations of the colonial-
modern logos." By rhis he means that the parameters of radical social, politi-
cal, and economic change in Latin America must be widened through new
projections of what is possible. Latin Americans musr be willing to envision
social logics and forms of governance and economy thar do nor yer exist. This
is a methodology for a new model of insurgency, one that challenges lines of
Power' racial and ethnic ideology, and rationales of market exclusion and in-
clusion not through the deployment of violence or a direct attack on the in-
stitutions of rhe state but through a social process that contreras Natera de-
scribes as 'tritical and deconstructive thinking."
Nonetheless, as the chapters in this volume demonstrate in no uncertain
terms, the neoliberalization of Latin America accelerared the deepening of
ideologies that, among other things, naturalize and flatten out their own his-
torical contingency. In the absence ofclear alternatives to neoliberalism with
similar legacies of political legitimacy and historical durability, it has become
more difficult for radicals in contemponry Latin America to gain much re-
gional traction. This is another reason that ir has become all too easy ro ana-
lytically marginalize the sociopolitical experimenrs in countries like Bolivia
and Venezuela. In addition, it does not help that the Bolivian revolurion,
for example, is understood by some of its protagonists as a revolution toward.
socialhw,when in fact its constitution and broader ethnopoliticd lineq of re-
*ructuring suggest a radically hybrid form of gbvernânce that defies the ex-
istingcategories of social and political theory.
Taken as awhole, the chapærs in the volume point to the challenges that
confront the vision and desires of intellectuals like Contreras Natera and po-
litical and social leaders throughout Latin America who strive for â posr-
neoliberal future, one in which the region will once againbeat the vanguard
ofglobal activism and revolutionary militancy. As the life-threatçning illness
of Hugo Châvezhas underscorid, challenges to neoliberalism in LatinAmerica
are still largely embodied in the trajectories of charismatic leaders, whose quests
for political po!\rer can overshadovr both the efforts of more obscure açdvists
and the goals of the revolution itself. This has also prevented the emergence of
a viable transregional, postneoliberal alignment. Inst,ead, we see what might
be described as "national postneoliberalisms," or the development of "post-
neoliberalism in one country." These national experiments nevertheless reveal
something beyond the constraints of the neoliberal world order. They point
the way to new horizons of possibility even if their broader implications are
*ill incipient or deeply contested. And they are, without question, suffused
with the kind bf insurçnt imaginary that Conrreras Natera urges, even as
neoliberalism becomes more rboted and discursively naturdized throughout
much of Latin America.
--.__ " /
... In the early 2000s, Bolivia was looked to as one of the most radical and progressive countries in Latin America's so-called Pink Tide (Goodale and Postero, 2013;Kohl and Farthing, 2006), following successes in overthrowing neoliberal reforms (namely, the attempted privitisation of water in Cochabamba in 2000) and demands to re-nationalise natural resources, primarily natural gas, and redistribute profits. In 2005, indigenous President Evo Morales was elected on the back of significant social movement mobilisations (see Harten, 2013;Kohl and Farthing, 2006). ...
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In this paper, I extend the analytical framework of infrastructural citizenship with political ecology and reorientate analysis to rural geographies, extractive infrastructure and indigenous territorial movements. Drawing from recent fieldwork in Bolivia, I argue that an extended conceptual framework of ‘infrastructural ecological citizenship’ better acknowledges the multiple, changing and contested ways that people and rural places co-exist and how these relationships are being reworked as infrastructure and citizenship are co-constituted. I use this framework to analyse a conflict over road building in an indigenous territory and national park in lowland Bolivia – the Isiboro Sécure Indigenous Territory and National Park ( Territorio Indígena y Parque Nacional Isiboro Sécure; TIPNIS), revealing how the road building project weakened the pre-existing political and material infrastructures that underpinned modes of indigenous territorial citizenship within Bolivia’s Plurinational State, as well as foregrounding how transnational extractive capital has shaped negotiations of territorial place-based citizenship in the TIPNIS. In doing so, I contribute to debates on infrastructural citizenship, resource extraction and sustainable development, revealing the ongoing potency of place-based claims on land and related claims for territorial citizenship.
... Social inequalities resulting from elitist democracy and neoliberalism have alienated the majority while a minority elite strengthened their grip both politically and economically [17,18]. Whether it was authoritarian regimes in control of state power, or later, when such regimes were over-thrown during democratic transitions in most thirdwave democracies, the interests of this elite group never ceased to be represented through state power [19]. Social exclusion of the majority from political and economic spheres gave rise to civil strife, seen in many third-wave democracies such as those in Latin America [20]. ...
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Introduction Participatory governance is about state and society jointly responsible for political decisions and services. The origins and trajectory of participatory governance initiatives are determined by the socio-political context and specifically the nature of state-society relations. Participation by communities in health interventions has been promoted globally as a strategy to involve citizens in health decision-making but with little success. Such participatory governance in health should be seen not as a strategy alone but as a political project in which organized communities challenge the status-quo in health. Methods This paper deals with the wider socio-political context of participatory governance initiatives. It uses comparative politics literature to analyze socio-political context in Brazil and Venezuela, historically spanning half century prior to 2015, to assess whether it was conducive to participatory governance. The focus of this paper’s analysis particularly is on the socio-political changes that were taking place in Brazil and Venezuela in the decades of the 1980s and 1990s. Those decades formed the bedrock on which the two countries experienced democratization and a socialist transformation that has lasted well into the first decade of the twenty-first century. The situation in the health sector is also described for the two countries showing a parallel trajectory to the wider political context and that reflected the political ideology. For this assessment, we use a contemporary framework called the ‘socialist compass’ which links dynamics of power relations in various ways among three domains of power, namely, state power, economic power, and social power. Socialist compass can be used to assess whether such reforms are moving towards or against social empowerment. Conclusion Our analysis reveals that both Brazil and Venezuela were moving in the direction of social empowerment until at least the year 2015, just before the political turmoil started engulfing the left-leaning regimes in both the countries.
... Este aumento de la actividad minera se inició en la época de reformas neoliberales, las cuales facilitaron la entrada de empresas transnacionales de exploración. No obstante, se mantuvo e incluso se agudizó dentro de un contexto de cambio político regional generado por la llegada de gobiernos progresistas con discursos antineoliberales acerca de la soberanía nacional, los derechos de los ciudadanos, la participación social y modelos alternativos de desarrollo (Goodale y Postero, 2013). Muchos de estos gobiernos buscaron y alentaron el crecimiento del sector minero, ya que encontraron en ello una fuente de financiamiento para sus ambiciosas agendas de inversión social y modernización. ...
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Over the last decade, Ecuador has become a new frontier for large-scale mining expansion and this article aims to analyze the territorial transformations and contentious politics that are induced by this new capitalist activity. It therefore presents a case-study of Ecuador’s first large-scale mining project, the Mirador copper mine in the Cordillera del Cóndor in the Amazon region. Using analytical insights from the current debates on territory, specifically the recently coined concept of “territorial pluralism”, the article shows the multiple historical territorialization processes that shaped the Cordillera del Cóndor and describes the interruptive reconfiguration introduced by the mining project. It furthermore examines the visions and strategies of local resistance group. Based on this analysis, I conclude that this particular approach to territory contributes to our comprehension of mining conflicts by revealing the distinct forms of understanding and relating to space and nature, and the power relations that constitute them. I moreover argue that territorial pluralism helps to explain how the repertoires of contention and alternatives that surge from these struggles are structured.
Through an examination of anti-racist and decolonial politics in education in the Brazilian and Latin American contexts, this paper outlines underlying features shaping black political-epistemological struggles and the difficulties of reform via the state in an anti-black society. The article first situates emerging anti-racist legislation and multicultural policy in the region within larger discussions of the progressive Left Turn among governments and the emergence of postneoliberalism. The paper then examines how racism and state violence against black people have persisted within this leftward postneoliberal turn, shaping the manner through which anti-racist and decolonial politics seek to both contest and mobilize within state discourses and institutions to improve the situation of black people. In the last section, the paper proposes to understand black movement struggles of decolonial orientation through Abdias do Nascimento’s black Brazilian praxis of quilombismo, a praxis that consciously reflects both the predicaments and future possibilities presented by working for political-epistemic and cultural transformation within and beyond an anti-black state. The paper demonstrates quilombismo as the decolonial in practice through an analysis of anti-racist education legislation focused on curriculum reforms.
This ambitious and remarkable book provides us with a new, creative, and critical site for feminist scholarship and leads the way in producing historically and contextually specific empirical datasets and analysis of the deeply complex area of global women's rights. As is often the case with important work, the book engenders a supplementary set of hard questions to be asked both of itself and of the wider literature. In particular, the book enables us to raise two sets of further questions: first, about the links between law, policy making, women's rights, and social transformation, and second, to raise methodological and conceptual questions in the wake of empirically operationalizing intersectionality on a global scale.
In Bolivia, national reforms of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) government, which purport to devolve power to indigenous communities, generated disagreement among the local authorities of the highland indigenous community of Bolívar province. This paper examines why this conflict occurred and how it illustrates some of the paradoxical consequences of the MAS’ project of ‘plurinational’ reform. This situation can be explained through understanding the legacy of administrative and territorial reforms of Bolivia’s ‘neoliberal’ period and how these have shaped the local system of government and the perspectives of its leaders.
In this paper I argue that assemblage theory provides an innovative way to extend critique of sustainable development as it is being remade by the 2015 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Drawing on recent fieldwork in Bolivia, I examine the early take‐up and implementation of the SDGs in a site of intensifying resource extraction and struggles for radical development alternatives. I foreground the assemblage of institutions, discourses, landscapes, and infrastructures that are at once disciplined and held together to materialise and legitimise particular interpretations of sustainable development This helps highlight what I term the ‘lost‐geographies’ of the assemblage. Based on this analysis, I argue that the SDGs as assemblage act as a form of anti‐politics by rendering neutral and apolitical the conflictive politics of extractivism. As global momentum to combat climate crisis and environmental crisis grows, such assemblage work helps explain how powerful, extractivist development logics are nevertheless being maintained and reworked.
This article examines how a Spanish telecom giant legitimizes its market expansion through a corporate social responsibility (CSR) narrative that links generic notions of technological innovation and children's rights to projects of development and democracy. At a broad level, I explore how the neoliberal privatization of the telecommunications industry has involved a reconfiguration of corporate‐state relations rather than an erasure of the state in corporate discourse. I trace how Telefónica accrues currency as a digital pioneer and provider of a social good by incorporating consumers, state actors, and other corporations into its moral apparatus. My point of entry is a smartphone application that the company's Colombian subsidiary developed and subsequently gamified to empower consumer‐citizens to end street‐based child labor. Within a digital economy of “instant gratification” and national context of securitization, the process whereby consumers are interpellated as citizen‐activists highlights the thin line between profiling techniques and humanitarian action, and between surveillance and activism, while disguising the limits of the state bureaucracy and the company's own distance from its purported beneficiaries. Ultimately, I show how the company maintained its narrative about its innovative and sustainable commitment to children even when explaining the failures of its CSR strategy. [digital activism, corporate social responsibility, children's rights, corporate–state relations, urban Latin America] Este artículo examina cómo el gigante español telecom legitima su expansión de mercados a través de una narrativa de responsabilidad social corporativa (RSC) que conecta las nociones genéricas de innovación tecnológica y los derechos de los niños a proyectos de desarrollo y democracia. A un nivel amplio, exploro cómo la privatización neoliberal de la industria de las telecomunicaciones ha incorporado una reconfiguración de las relaciones corporación‐estado en vez de una anulación del estado en el discurso corporativo. Le hago seguimiento a cómo Telefónica acumula aceptación como un pionero digital y proveedor de un bien social a través de incorporar consumidores, actores estatales y otras corporaciones dentro de su aparato moral. Mi punto de entrada es una aplicación del teléfono inteligente que la subsidiaria colombiana de la compañía desarrolló y subsecuentemente gamificó para empoderar consumidores‐ciudadanos a fin de terminar el trabajo infantil con base en la calle. Dentro de una economía digital de “gratificación instantánea” y el contexto nacional de la puesta en seguridad, el proceso por el cual los consumidores son interpelados como ciudadanos‐activistas resalta la delgada línea entre técnicas de elaboración de perfiles y acción humanitaria, y entre vigilancia y activismo, mientras disfrazando los límites de la burocracia del estado y la distancia propia de la compañía de sus supuestos beneficiarios. Últimamente, muestro cómo la compañía mantuvo su narrativa sobre su compromiso innovador y sostenible con los niños incluso al explicar las fallas de su estrategia de responsabilidad social corporativa. [activismo digital, responsabilidad social corporativa, derechos de los niños, relaciones corporación‐estado, América Latina urbana]
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