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Friday, April 29, 2016

Abstract, "Political Conflict and Spiritual Battle: Intersections between Religion and Politics among Brazilian Pentecostals" by Carlos Gustavo Sarmet Moreira Smiderle and Wania Amelia Belchior Mesquita

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Political Conflict and Spiritual Battle: Intersections between Religion and Politics among Brazilian Pentecostals 
by Carlos Gustavo Sarmet Moreira Smiderle and Wania Amelia Belchior Mesquita

A new interpretation of Evangelical actors’ increasing participation in Brazilian political and electoral contests is that elements of Pentecostalism predispose a believer to see the world as the site of an eternal struggle between God and Satan. The belief in demons that have territorial jurisdictions, known as territorial spirits, is one aspect of this theology. The cognitive universe of this belief induces the Evangelical voter to make electoral decisions on the basis of religious premises. It teaches the voter to conceive, without much reflection, the spiritual battle and the electoral game as territorial disputes.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Abstract, "The Legacy of Liberation Theology in Colombia: The Defense of Life and Territory" by Leila Celis

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The Legacy of Liberation Theology in Colombia: The Defense of Life and Territory 
by Leila Celis

Liberation theology was very important in Latin America between 1970 and 1980. While it is less significant today, it has not disappeared. If we look at Colombia, we can see the pastoral and political commitment of the religious and the laity in various regions as they accompany marginalized communities, victims of government and parastatal violence, in conformity with their preferential option for the poor. Motivated by the crucified Christ, the heirs of liberation theology have developed a theology of life or of human rights. As human rights advocates, they identify among the causes of violence the policies of capitalist development, denounced as imperialist and responsible for the poverty of the majority of the population. This development has its origin in the parallel dynamics of social and international relations and the associated adaptation of the social movement.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Abstract, "New Forms of the Relationship between Politics and Religion: Ecclesiastical Base Community Activists in Mexico City" by Hugo José Suárez

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New Forms of the Relationship between Politics and Religion: Ecclesiastical Base Community Activists in Mexico City 
by Hugo José Suárez

Beginning in the 1960's, new forms of living the faith emerged in Latin America that linked it with a political dimension. The Catholic Church changed its pastoral orientation, and ecclesiastical base communities were established as part of an “option for the poor.” The reflection that accompanied this process was known as liberation theology. By the end of the 1970's these communities were organizing conferences, publications, and theological reflections with strong international links and included hundreds of believers both in the countryside and in the city. During the following two decades, they were active participants in the construction of leftist political alternatives. While a minority pastoral practice today, they continue to hold national gatherings and maintain their international contacts. In-depth interviews with three members of ecclesiastical base communities in a working-class neighborhood in Mexico City show how these individuals have built their socio-religious practice and their religious beliefs. Their experience is part of a global reconstitution of belief systems in Mexico that affects all of the salvation enterprises in their various expressions.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Abstract, "Religion, Autonomy, and the Priority of Place in Mexico’s Maya Highlands" by Ruth J. Chojnacki

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Religion, Autonomy, and the Priority of Place in Mexico’s Maya Highlands 
by Ruth J. Chojnacki

The irruption of Mexico’s highland Maya on the world stage with the 1994 New Year’s Day uprising by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation generated a torrent of publications. Relatively neglected in this literature is the deconstruction of costumbre (ancestral Maya tradition) by Maya youth dislocated by Mexico’s early-1980s economic collapse. In one exemplary Tzotzil Maya pueblo, the acquisition of biblical literacy and the cognitive skills it entails in Catholic Church–sponsored courses oriented to liberation theology propelled a generational religious revolt. The ensuing reclamation of ancestral territory from ladino ranchers upended colonial relations, enabling indigenous peasants in this and other highland Maya communities to institute autonomous modes of production. Driven by a dialectic of religious ritual and agricultural labor, this assertion of Maya agency attests to the salience of religion and the priority of place as indispensable resources for indigenous socioeconomic autonomy confronting neoliberal assault.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Abstract, "Religious Pluralism and New Political Identities in Latin America" by

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Religious Pluralism and New Political Identities in Latin America 
by Cristián Parker

The role of religion in Latin American politics can no longer be interpreted with reductionist schemes. The faithful—citizens—are combining faith and politics in unprecedented ways, and churches and denominations are no longer factors of political identity. The reconfiguration of new social and political movements interweaves complex linkages with the religious. The transformations of the political field and especially of democratic processes have reshaped identities in a context of increasing religious and cultural diversity with relatively less Catholic presence and greater Evangelical presence. Institutional secularization and religious pluralism seem to go hand in hand with a new cleavage between religion and politics.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Abstract, "Spirits, Bodies, and Structures: Religion, Politics, and Social Inequality in Latin America" by Jennifer Scheper Hughes and Maria das Dores Campos Machado

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Spirits, Bodies, and Structures: Religion, Politics, and Social Inequality in Latin America 
by Jennifer Scheper Hughes and Maria das Dores Campos Machado

Religion has been married to the colonial and imperial project in Latin America since the Spanish conquistadors planted the first cross on American soil. Even as the new European religion took root across the continent it became incarnate precisely in the large, impoverished, racially complex, subject, and politically marginalized population that the Catholic Church itself helped to create through the long colonial period. Religious institutions were intimately involved in producing and then maintaining structures of social inequality from the very “invention” of Latin America: thus was the vein opened. At the same time, just as religion was essential to colonial processes, it has been, inevitably, part of anticolonial and decolonializing movements and struggles. This issue returns again to the theme of religion and social inequality and the social movements (religiously motivated and otherwise) that seek to address religions’ ambivalent legacy across the continent. The election of the Argentine Jesuit Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the first Latin American pope brings global attention to the complexity of the Latin American religious landscape as the religious context that shapes his agenda. Bergoglio (now Pope Francis) has made the problem of inequality central to his papacy, decrying the “unfettered market” and the resulting global “economy of exclusion.” Not only did he speak on the evils of capitalism before a joint session of the U.S. Congress but he garnered international media and public attention in April 2014 when he famously tweeted “Inequality is the root of social evil.” It would appear that Rome itself now calls for attention to the problem of inequality.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Abstract, "The Necessary, the Possible, and the Impossible: A Post-Presidential Interview with Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva" by Emir Sader, Pablo Gentili

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The Necessary, the Possible, and the Impossible: A Post-Presidential Interview with Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva 
by Emir Sader and Pablo Gentili

A book about the 10 years of an administration that has profoundly transformed Brazil cannot avoid giving a word to its principal protagonist, the person without whom this process would not have been possible and certainly would not have achieved so great a success. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is a practical and intuitive statesman who seeks concrete solutions to problems. It has been in good measure due to this ability that Brazil has witnessed a political achievement that has made possible to the prioritizing of social aims, the attainment of egalitarian policies, the assertion of Brazilian sovereignty abroad, and the recovery of an active role for the state in creating rights for its citizenry.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Book, "Capital, Power, and Inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean." Edited By Richard L. Harris and Jorge Nef

::::::Book Review::::::

Capital, Power, and Inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean – New Edition 
EDITED BY RICHARD L. HARRIS AND JORGE NEF

For an additional chapter on health and human security: Click Here
For suggested resources for each chapter in the book: Click Here
For additional resources on ecological and social issues: Click Here
For additional resources on indigenous peoples: Click Here.
Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2014.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Abstract, Commentary: Rejoinder by Armando Boito and Alfredo Saad-Filho

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Rejoinder 
by Armando Boito and Alfredo Saad-Filho

Our article provides a class analysis of Brazilian society, examines the (changing) structures of political representation in the country, and explains the institutional conflicts during the federal administrations led by the PT. We argue that those conflicts express, in complex and mediated ways, disputes between classes and fractions within the dominant power bloc. Our analysis is carefully supported by examples drawn from the sugarcane-ethanol chain, Petrobras, the Brazilian Develoment Bank, the judiciary, the Federal Police, the mainstream media, and the recent corruption scandals.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Book, "People’s Power: Cuba’s Experience with Representative Government" Updated Edition By Peter Roman

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People’s Power: Cuba’s Experience with Representative Government – Updated Edition 
By Peter Roman

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 304 • Size: 6 1/4 x 9 1/4
978-0-7425-2564-1 • Hardback • November 2003 • $111.00 • (£75.00)
978-0-7425-2565-8 • Paperback • November 2003 • $49.00 • (£32.95)
Series: Critical Currents in Latin American Perspective Series
Subjects: History / Latin America / General

Monday, April 11, 2016

Abstract, Commetary: Brazilian Left Bonapartism and the Rise of Finance Capital: A Critique of the Internal-Bourgeoisie Thesis by Jawdat Abu-El-Haj

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Brazilian Left Bonapartism and the Rise of Finance Capital: A Critique of the Internal-Bourgeoisie Thesis 
by Jawdat Abu-El-Haj

Boito and Saad-Filho interpret the rise and fall of the power bloc that has sustained Brazil’s PT governments in the tradition of Poulantzas’s work on classes, class struggle, and the state. They consider the Brazilian state to be the main arena in which classes manifest their interests and power to influence economic outcomes. As did Poulantzas, they fall into the trap of structural determinism, in which collective choices and actions are derived mechanistically from fixed social spaces. I disagree with their thesis that the PT administrations represented an internal-bourgeoisie power bloc in an alliance with the middle classes and the popular masses and instead describe those administrations, especially under Lula, as left Bonapartist. The federal government under them exhibited greater autonomy from the bourgeoisie because of positive economic indicators such as a large trade surplus through commodities exports, the expansion of incoming foreign direct investment, and the capitalization of state-controlled pension funds. The increasing fiscal efficiency of the state led the government to amass unprecedented financial power.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Abstract, "State, State Institutions, and Political Power in Brazil" by Armando Boito and Alfredo Saad-Filho

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State, State Institutions, and Political Power in Brazil 
by Armando Boito and Alfredo Saad-Filho

The political conflicts during the Workers’ Party administrations led by Luís Inácio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff have been driven by disputes between two fractions of the country’s bourgeoisie: the internal and the internationalized bourgeoisie. Their ideologies, policies, institutions, and forms of political representation have determined government policies and outcomes. These processes have unfolded within an authoritarian democracy whose structures have not been challenged by the party. The party’s limited power and continuing timidity have produced an aggressive reaction by the internationalized bourgeoisie and the upper middle class, leading to a severe crisis in the administration of President Dilma Rousseff.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Abstract, "Legal Dualism and the Bipolar State: Challenges to Indigenous Human Rights in Brazil" by Cecília MacDowell Santos

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Legal Dualism and the Bipolar State: Challenges to Indigenous Human Rights in Brazil 
by Cecília MacDowell Santos/span>

The Brazilian state has contradictory laws, policies and practices with regard to the rights of indigenous peoples. Despite the adoption of a democratic Brazilian constitution in 1988 that incorporated a multicultural conception of indigenous rights and the subsequent ratification of new international norms of human rights for indigenous peoples, the practices of the courts and of the various sectors of the state reflect a legal cultural dualism and a “bipolar” state. The case of the Xucuru people sent to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights shows the conflicts between legal and political cultures characterized, on one hand, by an individualistic and colonial approach to indigenous civil rights and, on the other hand, a collectivist and multicultural perspective on the human rights of indigenous peoples.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Book, "Today’s Left in Power: Promises and Problems" by Hobart A. Spalding

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Today’s Left in Power: Promises and Problems 
by Hobart A. Spalding

Book Review of:
Latin America’s Radical Left: Challenges and Complexities of Political Power in the Twenty-first Century.
by Steve Ellner (ed.)
Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2014.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Abstract, "Sanitaristas, Petistas, and the Post-Neoliberal Public Health State in Porto Alegre" by Christopher L. Gibson

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Sanitaristas, Petistas, and the Post-Neoliberal Public Health State in Porto Alegre 
by Christopher L. Gibson

Scholars of the post-neoliberal state in Latin America commonly trace universal social policies to ruling left parties and deepened democracy. Yet, such accounts often overlook how subnational politics in highly decentralized democracies like Brazil’s can mediate this relationship. Examining such politics in the Brazilian município of Porto Alegre since 1988 suggests that structural constraints and competing programmatic agendas of Partido dos Trabalhadores (Workers’ Party—PT) governments complicated expansion of the public health sector. The município’s surprisingly modest delivery of such services is traceable to enduring deemphasis on critical dimensions of state building in this sector by several PT administrations and the integration of civil society actors into multiple participatory governance institutions with little power over this process. Even in such contexts, far-reaching participatory democratic institutions are no panacea for fulfilling the universal social policy ambitions of local post-neoliberal states that depend heavily upon high-level political appointees for their effectiveness.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Abstract, "Is the Brazilian State 'Patrimonial'?" by Anthony W. Pereira

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Is the Brazilian State “Patrimonial”? 
by Anthony W. Pereira

Patrimonialism is ubiquitous in the analysis of the state in Brazil, a country in which the concept has its own distinctive genealogy. However, patrimonialism has been subject to severe conceptual stretching, limiting its usefulness in comparative analysis. Furthermore, the “commanding heights” of the federal bureaucracy have become more universalistic and merit-based and less patrimonial over the past few years. Patrimonialism is therefore best viewed as one logic among many operating in the Brazilian state.