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Core Course Michaelmas 2021

Centre of Latin American Studies


Introduction to the Political Economy of Latin America

Pedro Mendes Loureiro

This session gives a broad overview of the political economy of Latin America, both as a field of research and as a substantive dimension of the continent. It addresses the models of capitalist development in the region during the last decades, highlighting patterns of labour relations, business organisation, the international insertion of the economies, the dependence on commodity exports, and party-political structures. Inequalities, a key aspect of Latin America’s political economy, are addressed in a later session. The discussions are structured around the processes that took place with the transition to neoliberalism, during the 1980s and 1990s, and with the rise and fall of left-of-centre governments (the ‘Pink Tide’), during the 2000s and 2010s. This session also presents some of the main research topics and approaches within the broad field of Latin American political economy.

Key issues

  • Varieties of capitalism
  • Neoliberalism
  • The Pink Tide
  • Party systems
  • Extractivism and commodity exports

Required readings

Further readings

  • Arsel, M., Hogenboom, B. and Pellegrini, L. 2016. The extractive imperative in Latin America. Extractive Industries and Society, 3(4), 880-887.
  • Barndt, W. T. 2014. Corporation‐based Parties: The Present and Future of Business Politics in Latin America. Latin American Politics and Society, 56(3), 1-22.
  • Boito Jr, A. and Saad-Filho, A. 2016. State, State Institutions, and Political Power in Brazil. Latin American Perspectives, 43(2), 190-206.
  • Brinks, D. M., Levitsky, S. and Murillo, M. V., 2019. Understanding Institutional Weakness: Power and Design in Latin American Institutions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Coatsworth, J. H. 2008. Inequality, Institutions and Economic Growth in Latin America. Journal of Latin American Studies, 40(3), 545-569.
  • Conniff, M. L., et al., 2012. Populism in Latin America: Second Edition. Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press.
  • Ebenau, M. 2014. Comparative capitalisms and Latin American neodevelopmentalism: A critical political economy view. Capital & Class, 38(1), 102-114.
  • Edwards, S., 2010. Left behind: Latin America and the false promise of populism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Ellner, S. 2013. Latin America’s Radical Left in Power: Complexities and Challenges in the Twenty-first Century. Latin American Perspectives, 40(3), 5-25.
  • Fraile, L. 2009. Lessons from Latin America's neo-liberal experiment: An overview of labour and social policies since the 1980s. International Labour Review, 148, 215-233.
  • Grugel, J. and Riggirozzi, P. 2012. Post-neoliberalism in Latin America: Rebuilding and Reclaiming the State after Crisis. Development and Change, 43(1), 1-21.
  • Gudynas, E. 2012. Estado compensador y nuevos extractivismos: las ambivalencias del progresismo sudamericano. Nueva Sociedad, 237, 128-146.
  • Harris, R. L. 2015. China’s Relations with the Latin American and Caribbean Countries: A Peaceful Panda Bear instead of a Roaring Dragon. Latin American Perspectives, 42(6), 153-190.
  • Katz, C. 2015. Dualities of Latin America. Latin American Perspectives, 42(4), 10-42.
  • Kay, C. and Vergara-Camus, L., eds., 2018. La cuestión agraria y los gobiernos de izquierda en América Latina: campesinos, agronegocio y neodesarrollismo. Buenos Aires: CLACSO.
  • Levitsky, S. and Roberts, K. M., eds., 2011. The resurgence of the Latin American left. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Mainwaring, S. and Scully, T. R., eds., 1995. Building democratic institutions: Party systems in Latin America. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  • Menaldo, V. 2015. The New Political Economy of Natural Resources in Latin America. Latin American Politics and Society, 57(1), 163-173.
  • Piva, A., 2015. Economía y política en la Argentina kirchnerista. Buenos Aires: Batalla de Ideas.
  • Ramírez López, B. P. 2017. Latin America’s Domestic Market and the Maintenance of Capitalism. Latin American Perspectives, 45(2), 74-84.
  • Roberts, K. M., 2014. Changing Course in Latin America. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Saad-Filho, A. and Morais, L., 2018. Brazil: Neoliberalism versus Democracy. London: Pluto Press.
  • Sader, E. 2008. The Weakest Link? Neoliberalism in Latin America. New Left Review, (52), 5-31.
  • Sankey, K. and Munck, R. 2016. Rethinking Development in Latin America: The Search for Alternative Paths in the Twenty-first Century. Journal of Developing Societies, 32(4), 334-361.
  • Smith, W. C., et al. 2014. Special Section: Political Economy and the Future of Latin American Politics. Latin American Politics and Society, 56(1), 1-33.
  • Svampa, M., 2018. Latin American Development: Perspectives and Debates. Latin America Since the Left Turn. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 13-32.