Latin American Perspectives: Globalizing Resistance-The New Politics of Social Movements in Latin America:
Issue Editors: Richard Stahler-Sholk, Harry E. Vanden, and Glen Kuecker
- A first issue on this topic was published in the March 2007 issue; manuscripts are now being solicited for a second issue -
The last two decades have seen an upsurge of Latin American social movements, challenging the neoliberal paradigm and the governments that impose it. Movements such as the indigenous mobilizations of CONAIE in Ecuador, the cocaleros and mobilizations against water privatizations and gas pipeline investments in Bolivia, the Zapatista movement in Mexico, the landless rural workers of the MST in Brazil, Afro-Colombians resisting displacement in a region coveted by investors, and the piquetero eruptions of workers and the urban poor in the wake of Argentina's financial crisis, are contesting the region's political and economic systems..
These phenomena defy the expectations of the mainstream "transitology" literature, which saw social movements as a temporary outgrowth of the suppression of conventional politics by bureaucratic-authoritarian regimes, a trend that would fade again with the return of electoral democracy. The intensification of social movements appears to be not only an outgrowth of the traditional resistance and mobilization of the masses, but a response to the advance of neoliberal globalization. This resistance is, however, by no means exclusively manifested in class-based organizing. The global spread of free trade/market forces involves a rollback of the state, yet the neoliberal state has new functions of structuring and policing the new conditions for global capital accumulation. In this era of increasing globalization, pressure to integrate into global markets threatens a heterogeneous group of social subjects who are coalescing into new resistance movements.
These new movements seek to define a novel relation to the political realm. Unlike traditional guerrilla movements or electoral expressions of the left, they are not fundamentally organized to seize state power. Yet they have contributed to destabilizing and in some cases ousting governments (e.g. Bolivia, Argentina, Ecuador, and arguably Mexico's PRI), while coexisting in awkward relationships with left parties and guerrilla movements (e.g. Brazil's PT, and Mexico's PRD party and EPR/ERPI guerrillas). Parallel to the increase in social protest movements is the development of movement-based politics of a populist variety, such as Lavalas in Haiti and chavismo in Venezuela. From the Argentine cry of "que se vayan todos" to the Zapatista concept of "mandar obedeciendo," these movements are struggling for a radical redefinition of politics.
This issue of Latin America Perspectives will explore the roots and implications of social movement formation and their resistance to neoliberalism. Articles might examine the common explanatory elements of this phenomenon; the strategic elements of social movement confrontations with the neoliberal project of global capital; specific country or sectoral examples that illustrate aspects of this phenomenon and its political impact; how these new movements are different from previous popular mobilizations; or regional and transnational forms of social movement organizing.
Some of the questions that might be addressed in the issue include:
*What is new about Latin American social movements since the 1980s?
*What are the new spaces and modes of organizing against the neoliberal project?
*Are these movements necessarily more internally democratic or progressive than other forms of organizing?
*What strategies are effective in forging solidarity and counteracting the atomization produced by the uniform application of neoliberal programs?
*Can these movements effect the policy changes they want without taking power or being part of a coalition that does?
*By concentrating on society and not on the political organization of state power, are such movements capable of winning and defending lasting change? What should their relationship be to political parties and other institutions?
*Is social movement resistance forcing adaptations in the "Washington consensus" on neoliberal economics, and/or in the politics of counterinsurgency?
*Is there an emerging new popular economy, a model of local self-sufficiency that represents viable alternatives to the logic of global capitalism?
*What is the relation between the politics of identity (race, ethnicity, gender) and class in organizing resistance against neoliberal globalization?
*Are social movements vulnerable to cooptation by the new "civil society" projects and discourse purveyed by international financial institutions and NGOs?
*How are popular movement strategies affected when left-leaning governments come to power and face the discipline of global financial markets?
*What is the relationship between the resurgence of social movements and the various new populisms (left and right variants) that also seem to accompany the neoliberal era?
*Do transnational social movement networks compromise the autonomy of local forms of resistance to neoliberalism, or are they essential for confronting global capitalism?
*What is the potential of regional social movement solidarity (such as the Latin American women's movement, Vía Campesina, or the Mesoamerican coalitions against Plan Puebla Panamá)?
Prospective contributors should feel free to communicate with the coordinators of this issue:
Richard Stahler-Sholk, Eastern Michigan University: rstahler[at]emich.edu
Harry E. Vanden, University of South Florida: vanden[at]chuma1.cas.usf.edu
Glen Kuecker, DePauw University: gkuecker[at]depauw.edu
Manuscripts should be no longer than 25 pages of double-spaced text in English, Spanish, or Portuguese. If possible, submit two copies along with a cover sheet and basic biographical information. With these items, we also require that the manuscript be sent on a CD-R, by e-mail, or on a floppy disk if the other formats are not available. The LAP style guide is available on request or online.
Please send any manuscript submissions to:
Managing Editor, Latin American Perspectives¸ P.O. Box 5703, Riverside, California 92517-5703
LATIN AMERICAN PERSPECTIVES
P.O. BOX 5703
RIVERSIDE, CALIFORNIA 92517-5703
FAX to LAP (951) 827-5685
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