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FocaalBlog is associated with Focaal: Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology. It aims to accelerate and intensify anthropological conversations beyond what a regular academic journal can do, and to make them more widely, globally, and swiftly available.

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Conversations on the Left

  • David Bozzini: Gabriella Coleman on the ethnography of digital politics – part 2

    David Bozzini is a research fellow at the Graduate Center, CUNY, where he is researching on Eritrean deserters movements and on the resistance to digital surveillance. He co-edits Tsantsa, the journal of the Swiss Ethnological Society. Gabriella Coleman is an anthropologist and holds the Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy at McGill University in… more...

  • David Bozzini: Gabriella Coleman on the ethnography of digital politics – part 1

    David Bozzini is a research fellow at the Graduate Center, CUNY, where he is researching on Eritrean deserters movements and on the resistance to digital surveillance. He co-edits Tsantsa, the journal of the Swiss Ethnological Society. Gabriella Coleman is an anthropologist and holds the Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy at McGill University in… more...

  • Zoltán Glück: Of politics and crowds: A conversation with Susan Buck-Morss

    This interview with Susan Buck-Morss took place at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center on May 12 2015. Buck-Morss is Distinguished Professor of Political Philosophy at the Graduate Center and has been a towering figure in continental theory since her publication of The Origin of Negative Dialectics in 1977. Her books include… more...

  • Ida Susser: From the underground resistance under Franco to Podemos, with Vicente Navarro

    Vicente Navarro is a leading analyst of the history and origins of the financial crisis in Spain (and Europe in general) and an economic adviser to Podemos. His book There Are Alternatives (Hay Alternativas: Propuestas para Crear Empleo y Bienestar Social en España), written with economists Juan Torres and Alberto Garzón, became an inspiration to… more...

  • Zoltán Glück: Archive of a Radical Geographer: Neil Smith’s Papers—An Interview with Don Mitchell

    In 2014, Don Mitchell was a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Advanced Research Collaborative, at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). His primary project during this time was to sort through the large collection of papers, files, clippings, and correspondences left behind by Neil Smith after his untimely death in… more...

  • Zoltán Glück: Focaal Interview with David Harvey – Part 2

    The Conversations on the Left project by Focaal opens its series with an interview with David Harvey, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Geography at the CUNY Graduate Center. David Harvey’s works have had a profound impact on the direction of leftist social science over the past four decades. A few months before this interview, in May 2013, an impressive… more...

  • Zoltán Glück: Focaal Interview with David Harvey – Part 1

    The Conversations on the Left project by Focaal opens its series with an interview with David Harvey, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Geography at the CUNY Graduate Center. David Harvey’s works have had a profound impact on the direction of leftist social science over the past four decades. A few months before this interview, in… more...

Features

The Latin American Pink Tide

Editor: Massimiliano Mollona

The twenty-first century opened with a wave of radical political mobilizations sweeping through Latin America and brought left-wing parties in power in Brazil (2002), Argentina (2003), Uruguay (2004), Bolivia (2006), Chile (2006), Ecuador (2006), Paraguay (2008), and Peru (2011). The “pink tide” was the result of the massive societal mobilization against the dislocation brought by dictatorships in the 1980s and the radical privatizations and austerity measures pushed through by neoliberal social democracies in the 1990s. The core impulses of this new political phenomenon were the cross-sectional and horizontal alliances between anti-imperialist, white middle classes; the traditional labor movement; and indigenous, women, and urban organizations. The antiglobalization movement that emerged from the World Social Forum (WSF) was another central engine of the pink tide, in creating a liaison between parties and social movements, and renewing the labor movement by bringing together the traditional industrial trade unions and diverse sections of civil society. In power, left-wing governments across Latin America renationalized companies, set in motion massive programs of poverty reduction and urban participation, which empowered women, indigenous, and black minorities.

But in summer 2015, the tide started to reverse. After more than a half-century of Cold War estrangement, United States President Barack Obama met Cuban President Raul Castro at the United Nations in a historical reopening of diplomatic relations that involved, among other things, the lifting of the economic embargo on Cuba. Shortly after, in Colombia, Tirofijo’s Marxist guerrilla and the rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) agreed to submit to a legal process from a state whose laws they had never recognized. In September, right-wing candidate Mauricio Macri became Argentina’s president, after having heavily defeated the Peronist candidate Daniel Scioli. In December, the center-right opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) coalition swept to victory in elections for the National Assembly in Venezuela. For more than a year now, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff of the Workers’ Party (PT) has faced impeachment over the Petrobras corruption scandal—the biggest in the country’s history. The latest countercurrent took place on 23 February in Bolivia, where the electoral authorities announced that voters in a referendum had rejected the constitutional amendment to let President Evo Morales run for a further term in 2019.

There is no doubt that “the economy” is central to this reverse of fortunes. The China-inspired commodity price boom that financed much of the “pink tide” of leftist governments in Latin America over the past fifteen years is ending. The most dramatic case is the bankruptcy of the Venezuelan state after the worldwide collapse in the price of crude oil, which triggered the end of Chavismo as well as Cuba’s historical opening to the United States. For Raul Zibechi (2015), the end of the commodity boom has exposed the limitations of the “extractionist” models of left-wing Latin American governments that funded vast welfare programs from commodities incomes and co-opt social movements within a “compensatory state.” Indeed, in spite of their radical stance against the Washington Consensus, left-wing politicians embraced the rules of the global economy, including financialization and austerity programs. But if the Latin American “neoliberal left” still supports market developmentalism, for the first time in the history of Latin America, we see opposition parties fully embracing free-market ideology.

Contents