This virtual special issue highlights some of the exciting directions that scholarship on the Cold War in Latin America has taken over the last decade. The field has flourished since Gilbert Joseph and Daniela Spenser’s call back in 2008 to bring the region ‘in from the Cold’ and pay attention to Latin Americans’ experiences of the conflict.1 By the Latin American Studies Association’s 50th anniversary meeting in New York, over 100 papers directly and explicitly engaged with ‘the Cold War’ in their titles or abstracts.2
As a flagship journal for Latin American Studies, JLAS has also reflected this new interest in Latin America’s Cold War. Over 30 articles published since 2008 have provided new insights into the way that the conflict affected – and was shaped by – Latin Americans’ international, transnational and global interactions as well as their3 domestic politics.4 From research on the intersection of religion and Cold War ideologies5 to cultural manifestations of the Cold War,6 the journal’s articles have moved our understanding of the conflict well beyond simplistic ideas of a distant bipolar superpower battle over the region. When it comes to the United States Cold War interventions in Latin America, for example, recent articles published in JLAS have shed new light on the varied dimensions, limitations and effects of US power.7 Economic relations between Latin American countries and the United States, and their consequences for local politics and society, have received nuanced attention.8 In the past decade, JLAS has also published significant interventions on the pervasive legacies of the Cold War and transitional processes that followed conflict in the region and continue to shape contemporary politics and society.9 If Latin Americanists once had good reason to be suspicious of “the Cold War” as a frame of reference, seeing it as a lens that relegated complex developments within the region to outside powers, short-term timeframes and simplistic binaries, this is no longer the case. Unsurprisingly, given its focus, JLAS has showcased some of the best new scholarship on the Cold War that emphasizes the importance of regional expertise in navigating the contours of the conflict’s relevance and significance for Latin America....
This virtual special issue, published to coincide with the conference of the Latin American Studies Association to be held in Lima on 29 April-1 May 2017, brings together articles published in the Journal of Latin American Studies on Peru in the last decade. The articles selected provide a limited though revealing vista onto recent social science scholarship on Peru.
In terms of disciplines, there is a strong political science contingent. In an influential article, de la Madrid examines ‘ethnic voting’ to show how, despite the absence of indigenous parties in Peru, voting behaviour has been shaped by presidential candidates’ use of ethnicity-based appeals to the electorate. In an article that reflects ongoing preoccupations with the quality of Peru’s democratic institutions, Dargent considers judicial independence through an examination of Peru’s Constitutional Tribunal. Reflecting a similar concern with the health of democratic institutions, Pegram accounts for the qualified success of Peru’s human right’s ombudsman.
Two articles focus on women’s movements in Peru, though one adopts a transnational comparative perspective. Jenkins considers the factors that have shaped the apparent depoliticisation of women’s grassroots movements and challenges the idea that neoliberalism alone can account for the process. Rousseau and Morales Hudon’s article examines indigenous women’s movements in Mexico, Bolivia and Peru and assess the conditions that lead, in each case, to the development of autonomous indigenous women’s mobilisation. The Peruvian case offers a dual situation with some women gaining autonomy within mixed-gender indigenous organisations and others forming independent organisations that act autonomously from mixed-gender organisations.
Killick examines the ways in which specific cultural forms are used to manage economic relations between Ashéninka and mestizos in the Ucayali region. Drawing on interviews with drug kingpins and a multi-sited ethnography of the region, Van Dun looks at the individual and collective practices that shape cocaine flows in the Amazonian borderlands, particularly in the Bajo Amazonas to which such flows have recently shifted. Rasmussen explores how villagers in Ancash manage their perceived abandonment by the state by deploying the idiom of abandonment in their relations with the state.
Political economy perspectives are covered in two articles that deal with mining, and more generally extractive industries, a sector of the Peruvian economy that has received increased attention in the last few decades as a consequence of its important growth and impact on society and environment. Reflecting similar concerns with institution-building as evident in the political science articles discussed above, Orihuela compares environmental protection policies related to mining in Peru and Chile. Schilling-Vacaflor and Flemmer similarly consider the issue of institutional strength in assessing the conditions in which the Peruvian prior-consultation law can function effectively.
History, though usually constituting up to half of the articles submitted to the journal, is relatively under-represented in the sample. In a pioneering article, Anna Cant explores the visual economy of the Revolutionary Government of the Armed Forces, and provides an insightful analysis of the ideas the Velasco regime sought to convey through its agrarian reform poster campaign. In a review essay, meanwhile, Paul Gootenberg revisits a field of scholarship, on the history of state making and development policy, that he helped to shape, in order to survey recent scholarly contributions, noting the shift away from structuralist and dependency perspectives to a more ‘political turn’.
Whether general conclusions can be drawn from this small sample of articles on Peru published in the journal is unclear. Perhaps the apparent high representation of political science and lower than normal representation of history is a reflection of recent developments in Peruvian academia, which has seen an expansion in political science scholarship. The focus on institution building and the quality of democratic institutions in several articles is certainly consonant with dominant concerns of Peruvianist scholarship in recent years, as political scientists and others attempt to make sense of both the internal armed conflict of the 1980s and 1990s and the authoritarian turn under Fujimori.
The very first issue of the Journal of Latin American Studies, published in May 1969, included a now classic seminal article on peasant uprisings in La Convención, in Cuzco department, by Eric Hobsbawm. As this special issue shows, JLAS continues to publish groundbreaking scholarship on Peru that reflects new, as well as older and still relevant, themes and approaches. As editors, we hope that such articles will help those who attend the LASA conference in Lima, and indeed, those who do not, to gain a better understanding of Peru and, as historian Jorge Basadre famously put it, of its problems and possibilities.
This virtual special issue brings together a set of articles just published by JLAS in order to give some background to the current political situation in Brazil. Together they provide a good summary of how much Brazil has changed in recent years, but also of recurrent problems that have become particularly evident in the last few months.
Three of the articles assess the evolution of the Workers Party (PT)—a key player in the current crisis—over the last 4 decades, and the tensions involved when social movement parties move into government: Hernán Gómez Bruera examines party-civil society links under the Lula administration, asking how the PT maintained relations with civil society organisations in order to secure ‘social governability’, and suggesting that this relied upon the distribution of jobs in the state apparatus and the allocation of subsidies to supporting groups. Pedro Floriano Ribeiro describes the changes that occurred as the PT moved into government from 2003, and the transition from party-civil society links to state-civil society linkages. Oswaldo Do Amaral and Timothy Power review the scholarly literature on the last 35 years of the PT, placing it in the context of scholarship on the regional ‘turn to the left’.
The articles by Gregory Michener and Carlos Pereira, and by Philip Kitzberger explore long-standing problems that seem to be recurring in the contemporary moment, namely corruption and the media, respectively. Michener and Pereira discuss the Mensalão scandal, a direct precursor to the corruption scandals that unseated Dilma Rousseff earlier this year. Kitzberger compares media strategies in Argentina and Brazil, showing the role of the media in developing corruption scandals and enabling (or weakening) social governability, in Gómez Bruera’s sense.
Finally, two articles examine the fate of political issues associated especially with the PT governments. Eve Bratman investigates the activism around the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam in the Brazilian Amazon, exploring the interplay between transnational activism and domestic economic interests. She shows that the ‘strong state’ philosophy of the PT meant a commitment to the dam despite objections by domestic and transnational indigenous peoples, environmentalists and human rights activists. Teresa Melgar analyses the fate of participatory budgeting in Porto Alegre after the PT lost control of local government there in 2004. Despite the promise held out by the initial success of such initiatives, they have proven difficult to sustain in the face of lack of commitment from subsequent regimes.
Taken together, these articles present a complex and nuanced picture of the Brazilian political scene, albeit perhaps not one that is very optimistic. The authors critically explore how the PT managed relations between civil society, party and state since entering federal government in 2003. The reader sees that these relations contained within them fundamental tensions that the PT has to date been unable to resolve. Whether the impeachment process will worsen these tensions or whether it will unify the PT against a common enemy is one of the big questions for the future. The last few months have also highlighted advances in the fight against corruption, but also how many challenges still remain. As editors, we hope that the articles in this collection provide our readers with insight into the background to and some of the medium-term causes of the current crisis.