543.1 Building popular-democratic alternatives in Latin America: A comparative analysis of post-neoliberal movements in Venezuela and Argentina

Friday, August 3, 2012: 12:30 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Efe Can GURCAN , Sociology and Anthropology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada
The loss of legitimacy of neo-liberalism and the exhaustion of traditional forms of liberal democracy have led to the surge of social movements and the rise to power of left-wing governments in Latin America during the first decade of the 2000s. Many observers tend to confirm the fact that the rise of the Latin American left has manifested itself with a strength which is unparalleled in the recent history of the region, and they all agree that a new era has been opened in the history of Latin American social movements(Barrett,Chavez&Rodriguez-Garavito,2008). In this context, my research aims to understand the politico-cultural implications of the on-going transformative resistance and the new counter-hegemonic process in Latin America. Building on Otero’s theory of political-cultural formation which is founded on a general dissatisfaction with the class reductionism of economic deterministic versions of Marxism as well as the limitations of contemporary social movements theory in explaining the empowerment process of subordinate groups, this research consists of a contrasted case study of communal councils in Venezuela, and of recuperated workplaces in Argentina. The study will be organized around the following research question: “Which politico-cultural factors have an explicit and constitutive role in the empowerment of subordinate groups under postneoliberalism?” My hypothesis suggests that the Venezuelan case is marked by the co-existence of “emancipatory and political-historical models of leadership” (Grace,1997), “popular-democratic” type of state intervention (Otero,1999), and a historical-cultural configuration of transitory nature oscillating between “critical” and “naïve” aspirations (Freire,1998). On the other hand, the post-neoliberal project in Argentina seems not to express the same kind of state vigour and the same level of embeddedness of social movements in political change due to the prevalence of “naïve consciousness”, the consolidation of bureaucratic-managerial forms of leadership over emancipatory forms of leadership, and the predominance of bourgeois-hegemonic state intervention.