ses26_bigmama1 - 17.55, Introduction to Latin American...

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17.55, Introduction to Latin American Studies, Fall 2006 Prof. Chappell Lawson Session 26: Latin America After Big Mama Latin America After Big Mama When we began the class, I pointed out that Latin America was a land of extreme contrasts Rich and poor Modern and the traditional It was also a region marked deeply by colonial legacies Race and ethnicity Religion and language Division of property Power relations and political traditions But today’s Latin America has shed many of these legacies, or at least many of them have faded, blurred, and blended together with other influences Globalization and U.S. influence Modernization, urbanization, industrialization As a result of these sweeping changes, much of what Big Mama represented is gone An institutional church that held a monopoly on legitimate religious practice and was intertwined with the political and economic elite has itself been transformed The old guild systems and mercantilistic trade relations have given way to neoliberal policies The medieval social structures of jus primae noctis and rent collection in Macondo and Tres Marías have largely been overcome Latin America is clearly modern, however much the particular expression of that modernity has been shaped by the past To be sure, Big Mama’s material possessions are not particularly well distributed As in the story, much of the wealth remains concentrated in a few hands Property – land, industrial assets, and access to government services – remains very unequal But her immaterial possessions, at least, are up for grabs In other words, power and privilege are actively contested No one elite can monopolize political legitimacy Rival and competing groups represent the rights of free speech or the interests of the working man In this sense, Big Mama is clearly dead Social and political structure she personified are gone What will replace her is not obvious To be sure, region is overwhelming democratic, at least nominally, and economically liberal (again, nominally) But how political democracy and economic neoliberalism will operate, and how they will interact to shape the lives of people in the region remains unclear What, then, does the future hold for Latin America? As I mentioned in the beginning of the semester, and as you have probably sensed, it is very difficult to generalize across such a broad region. But all countries face two broad challenges: Use of the materials should be cited as follows: Chappell Lawson, MIT OpenCourseWare ( course materials for 17.55J/21A.430J/21F.084J (Introduction to Latin American Studies, Fall 2006), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, downloaded on [Insert Date].
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Making democracy work for ordinary people
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This note was uploaded on 11/09/2011 for the course ARCH 4.401 taught by Professor Utemetabauer during the Fall '06 term at MIT.

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ses26_bigmama1 - 17.55, Introduction to Latin American...

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