Contemporary Latin American Inequality: Class Struggle, Decolonization, and the Limits of Liberal Citizenship

Webber, Jeffery R.. 2017. Contemporary Latin American Inequality: Class Struggle, Decolonization, and the Limits of Liberal Citizenship. Latin American Research Review, 52(2), pp. 281-299. ISSN 1542-4278 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Weberian sociological approaches dominate the contemporary study of inequality in Latin America. Theoretically, the major works in the area suffer from a conflation of liberalism and democracy and offer flawed conceptions of capitalism, class, and other social relations of oppression. This article offers an exegesis and critique of several recent influential texts written within the Weberian tradition. It then proposes as an alternative a Marxian-decolonial theoretical framework for understanding inequality and the totalizing power of capital. It demonstrates how such a framework can better account for the complexity of class relations and other internally related forms of social oppression—such as gender, sexuality, and race—in Latin America today. Finally, the article shows the utility of the Marxist-decolonial framework by way, first, of a concrete investigation into the highly contested dynamics of twenty-first-century extractive capitalism in the region, and, second, through an exposition of the life story and activism of Luis Macas, an indigenous activist and intellectual in Ecuador. The core element of Macas’s political subjectivity is an underlying utopian-revolutionary dialectic through which he draws on elements of a precapitalist past in looking forward to an anticolonial and socialist future.

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8 November 2016Accepted
16 August 2017Published

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Date Deposited:

07 Feb 2019 16:53

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29 Apr 2020 17:06

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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