The Spaces of Neoliberalism: Land, Place and Family in Latin America

The Spaces of Neoliberalism: Land, Place and Family in Latin America

The Spaces of Neoliberalism: Land, Place and Family in Latin America

The Spaces of Neoliberalism: Land, Place and Family in Latin America


• For students and researchers in Latin American studies, international development, geography, and anthropology

• A contemporary exploration of people's responses to neoliberal market reforms in everyday life in Latin America

Readers will learn how local communities, ethnic groups, and women react to market power and see how state policy affects people in their daily lives. The Spaces of Neoliberalism looks at several aspects of sociopolitical tensions including the politics of land and land reform, and the family as a place of negotiation between the roles of men and women.


On September 11, 2001 the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon prefigured as a historical possibility the end of capitalist modernity under Western hegemony in its latest incarnation of neoliberal globalization. To be sure, thinking about this possibility in no way condones the hideous acts of September 11. But societies have to re-examine at times their most cherished constructs. For more than two hundred years, Europe and the United States have enjoyed the socio-economic, cultural, and ecological privilege of building societies and life styles that asserted their primacy and rights in their own lands and the world over. Capitalist modernity has reigned with confidence, even when challenged. It is precisely the cultural values of individualism and rationality and their assumed superiority that are now being taken to new levels with neoliberal globalization.

There is a connection between our affluence and poverty elsewhere, between our high levels of consumption and the rate of depletion of natural resources in other places and between our cultural preeminence and the cultural crisis of other societies. This frequently means that [things fall apart] at their end, to recall the title of Chinua Achebe's famous work. This is why, in contrast to the external debt owed by poor countries to the international lending institutions and private banks, some raise a notion of the ecological debt owed by high-consumption regions to resource-rich and lowconsumption ones. To this I would add a cultural debt owed by dominant cultures over Third World cultures. the former have enjoyed tremendous material and ecological privileges as a result of how cultures have been defined and arranged worldwide.

To suggest the target of the attack on September 11 was this system of civilizational privilege is not a farfetched historical proposition. It does not of course explain everything, but it accounts for a lot of the opposition and malaise felt worldwide about the accumulated effects of capitalist modernity and the recent neoliberal project. This is why it is so important to learn a different and enduring lesson from these events. Heeding this lesson means examining seriously the neoliberal model and, in general, what goes on under the rubric of globalization.

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