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Rethinking Latin American Social Movements

Radical Action from Below

Edited by Richard Stahler-Sholk; Harry E. Vanden and Marc Becker

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This groundbreaking text explores the dramatic evolution in Latin American social movements over the past fifteen years. Leading scholars examine a variety of cases that highlight significant shifts in the region. First is the breakdown of the Washington Consensus and the global economic crisis since 2008, accompanied by the rise of new paradigms such as buen vivir (living well). Second are transformations in internal movement dynamics and strategies, especially the growth of horizontalism (horizontalidad), which emphasizes non-hierarchical relations within society rather than directly tackling state power. Third are new dynamics of resistance and repression as movements interact with the “pink tide” rise of left-of-center governments in the region. Exploring outcomes and future directions, the contributors consider the variations between movements arising from immediate circumstances (such as Oaxaca’s 2006 uprising and Brazil’s 2013 bus fare protests) and longer-lasting movements (Vía Campesina, Brazil’s MST, and Mexico’s Zapatistas). Assessing both the continuities in social movement dynamics and important new tendencies, this book will be essential reading for all students of Latin American politics and society.

Contributions by: Marc Becker, George Ciccariello-Maher, Kwame Dixon, Fran Espinoza, Daniela Issa, Nathalie Lebon, Maurice Rafael Magaña, María Elena Martinez-Torres, Sara C. Motta, Leonidas Oikonomakis, Suyapa Portillo Villeda, Peter M. Rosset, Marina Sitrin, Rose J. Spalding, Richard Stahler-Sholk, Alicia Swords, Harry E. Vanden, and Raúl Zibechi
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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 412Size: 6 x 9
978-1-4422-3567-0 • Hardback • December 2014 • $127.00 • (£85.00)
978-1-4422-3568-7 • Paperback • November 2014 • $46.00 • (£31.95)
978-1-4422-3569-4 • eBook • November 2014 • $43.00 • (£29.95)
Richard Stahler-Sholk is professor in the Department of Political Science at Eastern Michigan University. Harry E. Vanden is professor in the Department of Government and International Affairs and the Institute for the Study of Latin America and the Caribbean at the University of South Florida. Marc Becker is professor in the Department of History at Truman State University.
Chapter 1: Introduction, Richard Stahler-Sholk, Harry E. Vanden, and Marc Becker
Part I: Changing Contexts, Changing Responses
Chapter 2: Reinventing Revolutions in Latin America: An “Other” Politics in Practice and Theory, Sara Motta
Part II: Movement Dynamics, Strategies, and Identities
Chapter 3: Challenges and Difficulties of Urban Territories in Resistance, Raúl Zibechi
Chapter 4: Building Horizontal Political Cultures: Youth Activism and the Legacy of the Oaxacan Social Movement of 2006, Maurice Rafael Magaña
Chapter 5: Praxis of Empowerment: Mística and Mobilization in Brazil’s Landless Rural Workers’ Movement, Daniela Issa
Chapter 6: Network Politics in the Mesoamerican Movement against the Plan Puebla-Panamá, Alicia Swords
Chapter 7: Por la refundación de Honduras: Building a New Kind of Social Movement, Suyapa Portillo Villeda
Chapter 8: Popular Feminism in Contemporary Brazil: Lineage and Alliances, Nathalie Lebon
Chapter 9: The Contradictions of Black Cultural Politics in Salvador da Bahia: 1970s to the Present, Kwame Dixon
Part III: Dealing with the (Reconstituted) State
Chapter 10: Autonomy, Collective Identity, and Social Movement Strategies: The Zapatistas and Beyond, Richard Stahler-Sholk
Chapter 11: Argentina: Against and Beyond the State, Marina A. Sitrin
Chapter 12: Taking the Streets, Swarming Public Spaces: The 2013 Popular Protests and Social Movements in Brazil, Harry E. Vanden
Chapter 13: Bolivarianism and the Venezuelan Commune, George Ciccariello-Maher
Chapter 14: Correa, Indigenous Movements, and the Writing of a New Constitution in Ecuador, Marc Becker
Chapter 15: Bolivia’s MAS and Its Relation with the Movements That Brought It to State Power, Leonidas Oikonomakis and Fran Espinoza
Part IV: Transnational Organizing
Chapter 16: Horizontalism and the Anti-Mining Movement in El Salvador, Rose J. Spalding
Chapter 17: Horizontal Dialogue in the Construction of Agroecology by CLOC/Vía Campesina, María Elena Martínez and Peter M. Rosset
Chapter 18: Conclusion, Richard Stahler-Sholk, Harry E. Vanden, and Marc Becker
With engaging essays documenting grassroots resistance to neoliberalism across Latin America, this volume is a must-read for anyone interested in how ordinary people are challenging and changing the meaning of democracy in the region.
Susan Eckstein, Boston University


The contributors to this fine collection tackle a series of crucial issues facing new social movement actors in Latin America as they engage with the progressive governments of the Pink Tide. How the new horizontalist social movements cope with the more pragmatic concerns and practices of the center-left governments will shape the agenda for the left in the post-neoliberal era.
Barry Carr, La Trobe University, Australia


Thematically organized, with accessible introductions to each section to make the volume classroom-friendly

Examines radical grassroots and horizontal organizing in Latin American social movements

Presents original research on recent social movements, with a substantive historical overview to provide context

Includes cases that have received relatively little scholarly attention, such as the LGBTTI movement in Honduras and hemispheric black land rights struggles

Reexamines earlier theorizing about the region’s social movements in light of contemporary developments

Focuses on “horizontalism”—the recent tendency of many Latin American social movements to emphasize non-hierarchical social relations rather than engaging with conventional political institutions—with chapters by some of the pioneers of this concept, such as Marina Sitrin and Raúl Zibechi

Examines the complex relations between social movements and the leftist “pink tide” governments that have swept into office in much of the region in recent years

Addresses social movement responses to the declining neoliberal “Washington Consensus” of free-market policies, including the emergence of new post-development paradigms such as buen vivir (living well) and various concepts of autonomy

Considers the politics of identity in the construction of social subjects, not just in terms of class but also race, ethnicity, gender and sexual identity

Includes cases of cross-border and transnational social movements in the era of globalization

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