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Latin American theory on dependency and marginality: Revisiting aníbal quijano to analyse extractivism

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Latin American theory on dependency and marginality: Revisiting aníbal quijano to analyse extractivism

Abstract

The present text, from an interpretative and essayist perspective, exhibits transversal elements of the approach to dependency and also of the discussion on marginality in Latin America. From now on, it is argued that it is necessary to recover that approach from a relational, complex, and integrative approach, in which the internal and external dialectic includes economic, political, social, and cultural aspects. This is in order to enrich global knowledge on the processes of power distribution nowadays, which have generated new modes of marginality. Among them, the marginality related to extractivism, relevant to understand the confluence of discom fort that converge in social outbreak.
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Latin American theory on dependency and marginality: Revisiting aníbal quijano to analyse extractivism
Iván Ojeda Pereira1, Fernando Campos-Medina2
1 Department of Sociology, University of Chile, Chile
2 Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Chile, Chile
Abstract
The present text, from an interpretative and essayist perspective, exhibits transversal elements of the approach to dependency and also
of the discussion on marginality in Latin America. From now on, it is argued that it is necessary to recover that approach from a relational,
complex, and integrative approach, in which the internal and external dialectic includes economic, political, social, and cultural aspects.
This is in order to enrich global knowledge on the processes of power distribution nowadays, which have generated new modes of
marginality. Among them, the marginality related to extractivism, relevant to understand the confluence of discom fort that converge in
social outbreak.
Keywords: dependency theory, environmental sociology, Latin American studies, territory theories, reflection
Introduction
By using the essayistic format, I have considered the importance
of adding the author as an active entity inside the text. Due to this,
from now on, I will sometimes use the first person, with the
purpose of making visible the existence of a thinking being
behind the lines you are about to read. It is impossible for me to
kickstart this manuscript without revealing the enriching
experience that its production represents. As we all know, writing
is the exact opposite to a mechanical process; each word, phrase
and sentence being linked has its own intentionality and
specificness. No text is the same as another and what is in that
difference is the locus of the experience of the author. No matter
how much you think about a topic, there is always a singularity
element. On one side, it is based on the own comprehensive
experience of the context and the literature, and on the other, it is
based on your own experience, which constitutes diverse
manners of giving sense to ideas.
Following this line, it is even more interesting for the present text
to be understood as a journey. A trip where I searched high and
low for the history of the Latin American Social Theory, a
journey which baseline was a colloquial Facebook post. Then, the
adventure follows basing it on what I have called as a time skip,
where the idea of the past as analytical content of history and the
present as analytical content of the sociology is addressed. So,
where would be the boundaries? The moment that just occurred
is already part of the past, but is it already out of the scope of
sociology? Certainly, is not. The time skips that permitted this
journey encompasses the fuzzy edges of temporality and also the
capacity of linking between the different levels of history. The
episodic, conjunctural, and long term (longue durée) coexist,
overlap and are constituted dialectically in different presents
(Braudel, 2002; Pierson, 2011) [1, 2].
The manuscript converges with the experience that Eduardo
Armstrong and Oskar Themo Lobos illustrated in the Chilean
comic strip Mampato, a journey with the Spatiotemporal Belt.
Analysis of Latin America: The Empire of the caucasian
It becomes impossible to develop a sociological essay without
previously building its relevance, a sense of intellectual and
corporate importance and which goes beyond the desk and the
coffee. The ability of problematization begins from a social way
of thinking that raises the sight off the computer and become part
of the social, political, and cultural processes that have been
configurated inside the Latin American societies. As a
consequence, there will be not only scientific research but also
critical thinking regarding these processes. From a time to date,
sociological positivism in some universities, and the intellectual-
thematic twist, have been shaping a kind of sociology thar barely
differs from the science of data, complex computational work,
and statistics that in some point will become the conclusion itself
(Ruiz, 2006). The methodology for the methodology, which is
mainly focused on creating big explanatory models, that are able
to manage millions of cases (González, 2019), but where did
reflection, interpretation, and action go along this process?
Nowadays, it is urgent for sociology to be capable of develop
itself in an integral way, always taking care of its interpretative
and analytical dimension, thus, the essayistic labour becomes a
need for interdisciplinary revindication.
The current context of Latin America is quite problematic on a
social, political, and economic level. The different turns to
neoliberalism occurred between de 70s and the 90s have led into
different models in Latin America, nevertheless, they possess a
common denominator, referred to the growing social outrage
incubated in these nations, process that during 2019 led to a wave
of social outbreaks (Cavalcanti, 2019) [5]. Chile, Venezuela,
Bolivia, Paraguay, Perú, Equator and Colombia are just a few
examples of nations in the middle of a crisis. Even though the
theme diversity of the specific detonators of the outbreaks is
heterogeneous, it oscillates between setbacks in support
legislation and State recognition of the indigenous people, and
the rise in public transportation fares (Cavalcanti, 2019) [5]. It is
International Journal of Arts, Humanities and Social Studies
www.socialstudiesjournal.com
Online ISSN: 2664-8660, Print ISSN: 2664-8652
Received: 20-04-2021, Accepted: 05-05-2021, Published: 14-05-2021
Volume 3, Issue 1, 2021, Page No. 07-12
International Journal of Arts, Humanities and Social Studies www.socialstudiesjournal.com
8
considered sociologically insufficient to keep an approach to
protests which is focused solely and exclusively on understanding
parcelled situations, because this way, the point of view of the
global dialectic of structure/process is lost (Cardoso & Faletto,
1978) [6]. Until now, that has been the logic of the analysis,
moreover, it is still colonized by press articles that address the
informative and/or analytical aspect, relegating to last, the
possibility of a global approach.
There is no case where this implies losing sight of specificity, but,
conversely, what is proposed is the possibility of recovering the
structural globality as a comprehensive element, as long as both
dimensions are fed by their dialectical relation (Cardoso &
Faletto, 1978) [6]. Each country possesses their own
multidimensional specificities at a multilevel, nevertheless, all of
these nations are also part of Latin America. Following this line,
revealing global structural dimensions becomes elemental. It is
necessary and it enriches constructively the sociological activity.
This not only allows an advance at an intellectual level, but also
amplifies the view beyond nations, towards the locus of our
culture and the capacity for action that this historical moment puts
in the hands of Latin American People.
From now on, this essay will be focusing on the exposure of a
historical, conceptual journey approaching the dependency of
Latin America, as an analytical frame for capitalism in the
subcontinent. In this regard, it is argued that it is mandatory to
recover that theoretical corpus from a relational, complex, and
integrative approach, where the internal/external dialectic
includes the economic, political, social, and cultural aspects. This
is done in order to enrich the global knowledge about the
processes of power distribution in the present time, which have
generated a new marginality, which is known as extractive. For
this purpose, a special focus is set on the contributions of Aníbal
Quijano, as in his first dependency moment in the 60s as in his
later in time thoughts on postcolonial debate in the 90s (Quijano-
Valencia, 2018) [7]. This hypothesis lies not only in a need for
theoretical revindication, but also in the search for a way out of a
historical crossroads, highlighting the need to think about
possible courses of action, as it is stated in the last lines of the
conclusion of “Dependencia y Desarrollo en América Latina”
(Cardoso & Faletto, 1978) [6], being the only solution, the advance
to socialism. Nowadays, from the complex relativization to the
approach to dependency, courses of action must be proposed in
the tenor of the current political crises in Latin America.
The approach to dependency. Why? Who? And how?
It was the 20th century and the world had just come out of
barbaric; the World Wars closed and open new eras in the history
of mankind. Recently founded United Nations created offices in
different continents (and some subcontinents), to monitor the way
in which nations that have gone recently through processes of
independence -as a consequence to the end of the war- will get
into a world economy (Rodriguez, 1980). This is how the
Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean
(CEPAL) is created. Albeit this constitutes a problem itself,
because the CEPAL is located in a subcontinent where there was
already a historical experience building Nation States, that lasted
about a hundred years.
What underlies the idea of these offices, is a Rodowstonian
understanding of the economic growth as a continuum, in which
several steps are being burnt (Slater, 1999) [9]. At some point, this
‘retarded’ societies should build a momentum, should have a
take-off. In this regard and very much against those notions, the
economist and director of CEPAL, Raúl Prebisch, headed the
approach to a complete alternate notion, the Capelina theory of
center-periphery (Prebisch, 2012; Rodríguez, 1980) [11, 8]. In a
broad sense, this trend suggests that development should be
understood as a relational dynamic, in which underdeveloped
countries cannot reach development, because they are divergent
and co-dependent paths (Rodríguez, 1980; Torres, 1979) [8, 12].
Following this line, it is clear that, while Latin America sells its
raw material to central countries that will manufacture products
and send them back to Latin America to sell them at a higher
value, it is shaping a growing deterioration in terms of trade
(Solorza & Cetré, 2011) [13]. Thus, with the passing of time, you
must sell more raw material in order to obtain the sophisticated
product from the central nation, which accounts for a perverse
dynamic for the peripheries.
Subsequently, several intellectuals started to work with the
support of CEPAL, among them, Medina Echeverría, who in his
text “Consideraciones sociológicas al desarrollo económico en
América Latina” (1964), discusses with CEPAL based on two
major critics. Firstly, its structuralism, that leaves Latin America
as a simple reflection of the invariable external terms, and
secondly, its evident economicism, considered as a
comprehensive limit to the ‘problem of development’. Thus, it
inserts social elements into the discussion and lays the basis for
the debate that converges to the dependency approach.
When we talk about approach instead of theory, what appears is
the opportunity to understand a way of approaching Latin
America as an object of analysis, where homogeneity in not
necessarily present (Hernández, 2005; Solorza & Cetré, 2011) [15,
13]. On the other hand, regarding the dependency theory, there are
countless of stances and debates, from Mauro Marini’s Marxism
(1991), and its Altusarian variant by Gunder Frank (1970) [17].
Dos Santos interpretations of imperialism (1978, 2002).
Weberians trends as Germani (1962) [20] and Medina Echeverría
(1964). Finally, there are less orthodox stances, that open ground-
breaking sociological lines, such as Cardoso and Faletto (1978)
[6], and Quijano (1970) [21]. These last ones are pretty interesting
because, although they have diverted from the other trends, they
keep a dependent approach that adds new thematic and new
perspectives to centrality.
The work of Cardoso and Faletto (1978) [6] is undoubtedly a really
influential text for the dependency approach, here it is somehow
discussed with the Capelian structuralism and also with the
Altuaerian Marxism. Roughly, the authors raise a double
proposal. The first one contemplates the dialectic of
structure/process for the understanding of the constant
construction of Latin American reality. Meanwhile, the second
one considers the relationship between internal and external
power, that would allow us to understand how, according to the
same external influence, diverse political, economic, and social
situations are formed.
In this context of the dependency approach is where we want to
address Aníbal Quijano -inside the logic of time skips set out in
the introduction of this essay- as a key part of the debate. Quijano
is a fascinating author, due to his participation in different
disputes. On the one hand, he argues the existence of a colonial
epistemology, where Latin American Social Sciences have built
a mirror which reflection is what we are not, therefore, the Latin
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American problem is to stop being what we are not, disarm a
reflection in which we are not (Quijano-Valencia, 2018) [7]. Later,
he also took part in the discussion around the character of
marginality and power in Latin America. According to Quijano,
the logic of the Reserve army of labour cannot be entirely
overlapped with the experience of the subcontinent, instead, the
specificities must be considered. Just as the way in which power
works, where it shares arguments with the internal/external
dialectic. At a general level, there is evidence of Quijano
contributing with a new dimension surrounding the approach to
dependency, an eagerness on specificity that recalls Mariátegui,
where the civilizing principle of colonization is discussed. Thus,
coloniality as a cultural element of Latin America also possess a
horizon of self-improvement and action, which forward horizon
is decoloniality. Quijano always keeps his own nuance, an
Andean essence that, if you want to, is possible to call as an
indigenous anthropological perspective, absent in the other
authors mentioned.
As it has been established in these lines, it is difficult to talk about
the dependency theory only, due to in this discussions, different
sensibilities and different analytic scopes meet, whereby, it is
considered more concise to talk about a “Dependency
Approach”, in which Quijano was inserted during the 60s.
Aníbal Quijano: marginality and dependence?
There are some lectures, as the ones of Polo (2016) [25], where, in
spite of revealing the relation between the dependency theory, the
power coloniality theory and the theory of marginality, the latter
continues to be based on common themes. The main limitation
for this type of understanding is, in my opinion, the attempts to
classify the Latin American thinking into a distinctive
categorization eagerness. Here, dependency gets lost from sight
as an approach which main characteristic refers to its
epistemological base to access the Latin America phenomena.
Specifically, this base considers the internal/external dialectic as
a comprehensive point of view. Indeed, the dependency approach
seems to be a broad intellectual veil, where -as we have seen in
the previous paragraph- the authors brought to the fore different
dimensions and topics, expanding and imploding the postulates
of the approach. Following this line, the power coloniality theory
and the marginality theory do not appear to be different from the
dependency approach, but, as part of the same corpus of Latin
American thinking.
Our journey leads us to a time skip to the 60s, when the concept
of marginality becomes relevant in Latin America. This concept
does not emerge from the full of caffeine brains of some
intellectuals of the subcontinent, on the contrary, is emerged from
a concrete historical experience. The benefactor states of the 60s,
attached to the ideas of modernisation and industrialization were
decided to integrate social actors historically excluded and to
guarantee their basic rights (Enríquez, 2007) [26]. One of the
problematics that had arisen is that, while the industrial processes
advance (Hinkelammert, 1974) [27], the benefits of modernisation
are restricted and benefactor state cannot fulfil its promise. On
the other hand, the groups that were marginated from the benefits
started to grow (Enríquez, 2007) [26]. In a broad sense, the rhythm
of modernisation does not go as fast as different social groups, in
this context, the debate on marginality increases. In one side,
there is the full scope of structural functionalists related to
developmentalism (no critical vision), and in the other side, the
historic-structural perspective (critical).
For the first one, marginality is a situational phenomenon, where
one side of the population does not enter the spectrum of benefits
from capitalism because they do not wish to enter the system of
production, interpreting traditional social groups as marginated
(Germani, 1962) [20]. According to this, modernisation of power
and society should transform this marginal population, promoting
integration. El cleavage formed here belongs to social
marginality versus social integration. Unwillingly, critical
perspective inserted to marginality in a productive structure
society, hence, it is a problem of a structural order transcending
capitalism. Henceforth, the perspective is divided. Firstly, into
the most Marxist proposal, related to the Reserve army of labour
(Cardoso, 1966) [28], then, into a second hypothesis by José Nun
(2003) that coins the concept of “marginal mass”, and finally,
Quijano’s proposal of “marginal pole” (1970) [21].
Quijano proposes to understand the long-term processes in a
constant relationship with the historical memory and cultural
route of Latin America, that adds an important piece of
singularity and uniqueness regarding positivism and orthodox
Marxism. An ongoing reference to the Andean world can be
found in his work because, for the author, the intellectual ideas
must be immersed in a certain point of view (Mythos and Logos),
not constituted by a process of occidental replica. Thus, he
expects to know the prevailing trends in the socio-historical
process to propose, from there, the need for a historical and
logical horizon, different from the one imposed by the
Eurocentric modernity (Ríos, 2019) [33]. His proposal of a new
social order was not merely fantasy, but part of the development
of a specific reality.
Quijano’s perspective regarding marginality (1970a), is
undoubtedly a great contribution, because it manages to link an
external dynamic of dependency with an internal structural
process of marginality. Quijano recovers Nun’s considerations
around the pressure and reserve on the salaries in order to
distinguish a marginalized population from the Reserve army of
labour (Enríquez, 2007, p.65) [26]. Nonetheless, he differs from
Nun’s perspective (2003), arguing that the marginal pole in Latin
America is not completely excluded from a social system, that
would result in an ideal of dual society. On the other hand, it is
impossible for the marginal pole to access higher productivity
and more important roles, being forced to develop economic
activities of less importance. Later, Quijano (1970b; 1998) [21]
confirms the idea of being part of the marginal pole implies being
part of the social system in a non-relevant position, in something
like unequal structural integration.
Quijano (1966; 1967; 1968; 1972) [22, 34, 35, 36], winks what would
be known nowadays as urban sociology, in its interface with
urbanism; giving an account of how economic dependence across
nations, alongside with the internal marginalization processes,
would not remain in an abstract, but would result in the
construction of cities and urban characteristics. It is interesting
that Quijano does not drastically break his previous steps,
conversely, he tends to revitalize and even self-critic his own
work. His contribution from “cholificación”, theory of marginal
pole and power coloniality, could be confined in their own line of
thought, supported by the dependency approach, always
considering the external/internal dialectic.
International Journal of Arts, Humanities and Social Studies www.socialstudiesjournal.com
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Adding an own interpretation, I consider that one of the greatest
features of Quijano’s contribution is that they are linkable in their
different times. Following this line, marginality can go hand in
hand with a way of exerting and conceiving power, where
international configurations, alongside with nations, socially
target certain groups as more conductive to marginality. The
relationship between dependency and marginality has been
suggested by different authors (Cortés, 2012; 2017; Polo 2016;
2018) [37, 38, 25]. nevertheless, in my view, those suggestions are
seen as separate proposals that must be understood as different
parts of the same global proposal that, in the case of Quijano,
permits to open analytical lines regarding the character of the
State.
Latin America and extractive marginality
Finishing our journey to the 60s and the 90s and, once again, let
us trust in the present of Latin America. Before the pandemic we
are suffering, the subcontinent was affected by a global socio-
political conflict. As it was mentioned in the introduction, a set
of protests and demonstrations created an uncertain scene, but at
the same time full of hope. So, what is Quijano’s contribution in
order to understand the present times?
Conceiving how power is organized, its way of taking roots and
expansion, allow us to know “what can be done” and “how much
it cost”. Undoubtedly for Latin America, power is still by the
hand of complex national and international network, in a way that
it does not only work with colonial logics, but also with a network
of double dominance interests. It is impossible to approach the
social outbreaks in an isolated way, ignoring history. On the other
hand, and just like Quijano taught us, outbreaks must be exhibited
as historical moments where the limit of the acceptable is
exceeded. In other words, a stockpile of disconformity meets at a
point. Among the many elements that converge here, it seems
pertinent to discuss those of territorial order (Svampa, 2019) [40].
Regarding this point, I will now propose a marginality category
linked to extractivism in Latin America that, without a doubt, has
been core in the stacking of discomfort. Accordingly, the
properly extractive interests rest on dependency, colonialism, and
marginality.
At first instance, it refers to dependency, due to extractivism
comes from a basal line of a primary export model, that consists
in the selling of raw material to an open international market.
Even though some nations of the subcontinent have tried to keep
their models of selective industrialisation, all of them maintain
business clusters of significative contribution to GDP.
Henceforward, the dependent logic operates at the time when the
property and bonding regime overlap national and foreign
capitals linked through processes of invisibility of the owners.
Stock exchange and joint-stocks companies blur the determined
edges of extractivism from the early 1900s in Latin America and
give an account for new ways of dependentist social relations.
The board and shareholders seem to be a space where interests
are found and decisions regarding territories are taken, generating
different situations for nations and, at the same time, for the
regions. It is quite unfair to compare the Amazons with Vila Nova
Conceicao in Sao Paulo; or the sacrifice zone of Quintero-
Puchuncaví versus the rich city of Las Condes in Santiago, Chile.
Subsequently, capital distribution allows to enrich the national
elite, and to maintain processes of national and international
domination, i.e., power from the outside being applied in the
inside and power from the inside to the inside, that depend on
themselves to endure.
At a cultural level, colonial logic still penetrates political systems,
the same way it can affect the behaviour of some groups.
Moreover, most of the political systems use criteria that are not
constituted by the maximum interest of the citizenship
subsistence, instead, they are based on a production model in
charge of the constant destruction of the territory, nevertheless,
this is often interpreted as ‘development’, ‘civilization’,
‘progress’ or ‘growth’. Insane. The reason? So these products can
be exported. But before it, there is a second process as complex
as the first one, the opinion of the communities regarding the evil
models are quite heterogeneous. Most of the time, local
communities are not opposed to development, but continue to
picture their reality based on fictitious and Eurocentric criteria,
where getting to Miami by yacht or purchasing a mansion in
Europe, has more value than running your own lifestyle.
Finally, when we talk about an extractivist marginality, we are
talking about that territorial linking in charge of this kind of job,
where communities are annexed through the transformation of
job offers. These projects indeed, during their first years, are
profitable for local communities, especially if we consider the
evident poor conditions of the territory before the arriving of the
projects. So, through selective integration, the locals are
displaced from their transformative locus and inserted into the
commodity chain, establishing an internal economic dependence
which affects these means of production. Shortly after thar, the
project ends up absorbing every kind of resource. Is it possible
that big mining companies could coexist with animal husbandry?
Or will agriculture coexist with wood industry?
Despite the fact this reading could seemed a little far from what
has been propose through this essay, it converges syntactically
the different contents recovered, revealing the need for
considering the dependency approach from a complex
conceptualization.
Conclusion
Finally, we are about to conclude what I have called a trip with
time skips. Throughout this text, many hypotheses around the
dependency approach have been revisited, and it has been proved
that they are currently relevant when discussing capitalism in
Latin America. About that issue, it is extremely important to add
new interpretative jobs that surpass the expanding positivism and
not only to repeat scholastically what has already been said, but
also to begin using those conceptualizations in different topics
that nowadays afflict the Latin American reality, as extractivism
and the increase in the confluence of conflicts.
Aníbal Quijano is an author that has left a mark in different
sociology schools of Latin America; indeed, I would say that it is
impossible to study the becoming of the future of the
subcontinent without previously revisit Quijano. All over this
trip, I have had the opportunity to get into his mind, and to
immerse in the different debates he had over his intellectual life.
I believe that the role of history and culture, alongside with the
external/internal dialectic, are fundamental elements that must be
highlighted. In times where sociology is being confused with
other data manager sciences, I ask you: what does keep us
together as a discipline? In my opinion, it is the reflective ability
of social interpretation of the information we possess.
Undoubtedly, Quijano would call upon us to develop that job, and
International Journal of Arts, Humanities and Social Studies www.socialstudiesjournal.com
11
not losing from sight the analysis of Latin America and for Latin
America, that will contribute on the building of a new logical
horizon.
Before the growing barbaric in the continent, characterized by the
alarming inequality, marginality (those from the past, the present
and the future), state violence, and destruction of territories, it is
harder than ever not to fall in a deep defeatism. Nevertheless, we
have to gain the force to surpass the complex current scenario and
move forward to real alternatives, which will once and for all,
break the chains of colonialism in Latin America. Now, the
chances of that construction are attached to the wills of those in
charge of the political and social projects behind, that that
transcend temporal and spatial dimensions.
Acknowledgements
"Fernando Campos, acknowledges funding from the Institutional
Excellence Stimulus Program (PEEI) of the Faculty of Social
Sciences of the University of Chile through its Competition for
the Strengthening of Productivity and Continuity of Research
(FPCI) 2019-I. Iván Ojeda Pereira, thanks the support of the
Centre for Social Conflict and Cohesion Studies - COES
(ANID/FONDAP/15130009)".
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