Politics and Society in Latin America

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Course Information
Political Science
Terms offered: 
Fall, Spring
Language of instruction: 
Contact Hours: 

This course analyzes the relationships between politics and societies in Latin America. It explores how different social actors and movements have tried to achieve a presence in the public sphere. The course also analyzes how common people have been incorporated into the political system, their political actions, and the different mechanisms of domination and resistance.

The course is divided into five discussion topics. The first analyzes how working people were incorporated into the political system by populist movements. It explores the difficult relationships between populist movements and liberal democratic institutions, and the legacy of populist patterns of incorporation in present day politics. This section uses case studies from Ecuador, Argentina, Peru, and Brazil. The second section studies how political parties work in poor neighbourhoods. Using the Argentinean case different forms of patronage, such as clientelism, is explored. The third section analyzes the role of social movements in the creation of citizenship in contemporary Ecuador. Have social movements escaped form patronage and populist politics? How have they accommodated to existing cultural political patterns? The fourth explores the roles of social movements in recent constitution making processes in the Andean nations. The final explores the characteristics on the new left in Latin America.

Learning outcomes: 

By the end of the semester, students will be able to:

  • Recognise relevant debates about Latin American Politics.
  • Identify different theoretical and methodological approaches to analyze their influence in the interpretation of historical events.
  • Explain the normative implications of different theoretical traditions.
Method of presentation: 

Lectures, group discussions based on course readings.

Required work and form of assessment: 

Class participations (10%), short reports (3 pages) on two political and academic events (10%), mid-term (20%), final exam (20%).


Week 1
Introduction to the course. Populism and Democracy.

Week 2
Discussed readings: Gino Germani, Politica y Sociedad en una Epoca de Transición, chapter on Argentinian populism, and Osvaldo Hurtado, “Populismo y carisma.” In Felipe Burbano y Carlos de la Torre, eds., El populismo en el Ecuador. Quito: ILDIS 1989.

Week 3
Discussed readings: Agustín Cueva, “El Velasquismo Ensayo de Interpretación”, In Felipe Burbano y Carlos de la Torre, eds., El populismo en el Ecuador. Quito: ILDIS 1989.

Week 4
Discussed readings: Kurt Weyland, “Neopopulism and Neoliberalism in Latin America: how much affinity?”, Third World Quarterly, vol. 24, N 6

Week 5
Discussed readings: Carlos de la Torre, “The resurgence of radical populism in Latin America”, Constellations 14 N 3, 2007.

Week 6
Film, Velasco Ibarra un Monarca Andino

Week 7
Movie on the 2006 Ecuadorian Presidential Elections

Week 8
First essay exam due
Discussed readings: Javier Auyero,  Poor People's Politics: The Argentinean experience.

Week 9
Discussed readings: Javier Auyero, Poor People's Politics, Introduction and Chapter 3.

Week 10
Discussed readings: Javier Auyero, Poor People's Politics, Chapters 4 and 5 Social Movements and Citizenship.

Week 11
Discussed readings: Antón Sánchez, John, 2007 “Afrodescendientes: sociedad civil y movilización social en el Ecuador.”  Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, Vol. 12, n 1, pp.233-245, and discussion led by the author.

Week 12
The indigenous movement
Discussed readings: Luis Alberto Toaza, “El Cansancio Organizativo de los Indígenas” and guest lecture by the author.

Week 13
Constitution Making and Social Movements in the Andes.
Discussed readings: Amy Lind,  Gendered Paradoxes.  Women's Movements, State Restructuring, and Global Development in Ecuador. University Park: The Pennsylvania University Press, Chapter 5.

Week 14
Discussed readings: Renata Segura and Ana María Bejarano, “¡Ni una asamblea más sin nosotros!
Exclusion, Inclusion, and the Politics of Constitution-Making in the Andes.” Constellation vol. 11, n. 2, pp. 217-236.

Week 15
The resurgence of the Latin American Left.
Discussed readings: Carlos de la Torre, “Movimientos Sociales y Procesos Constituyentes en Ecuador”

Week 16
Discussed readings: Jorge Castañeda, “Latin America´s Left Turn”, Foreign Affairs, May-June 2006.

Week 17
Discussed readings: Rafael Correa, “Por fin, Latinoamerica Se Atreve a Generar Pensamiento Propio,” “Los Socialismos del Siglo XXI”, and interview with Rafael Correa in Ecuador y América Latina. Socialismo del Siglo XXI, edited by H. Dieterich, pages 19-65.

Week 18
Discussed readings: Catherine Conaghan and Carlos de la Torre. The permanent campaign of Rafael Correa. Forthcoming in press and politics.

Week 19
Final exam due

Required readings: 
  • Auyero, Javier.  Po or P e op l e’s P ol i ti cs.  Duke University Press, 2000.
  • Conaghan, Catherine and Carlos de la Torre, “The Permanent Campaign of Rafael Correa.”
  • Cueva, Agustín. El proceso de dominación política en Ecuador. Quito: Editorial Planeta, 1988.
  • De la Torre, Carlos. “The resurgence of radical populism in Latin America” Studies in Comparative International Development (SCID) 31.3 (1991):3-31. Dieterich, H., editor. Socialismo del Siglo XXI.
  • Germani, Gino. Política y Sociedad en una Época de Transición. Buenos Aires: Paidos, 1968.
  • Osvaldo Hurtado, El Poder Político en Ecuador.Quito: Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, 1977.
  • Weyland, Kurt. “The Unexpected Affinities between Populism and Neoliberalism.”