State Theory and Andean Politics: New Approaches to the Study of Rule

State Theory and Andean Politics: New Approaches to the Study of Rule

State Theory and Andean Politics: New Approaches to the Study of Rule

State Theory and Andean Politics: New Approaches to the Study of Rule


In the last few decades, Andean states have seen major restructuring of the organization, leadership, and reach of their governments. With these political tremors come major aftershocks, regarding both definitions and expectations: What is a state? Who or what makes it up, and where does it reside? In what capacity can the state be expected to right wrongs, raise people up, protect them from harm, maintain order, or provide public services? What are its powers and responsibilities?

State Theory and Andean Politics attempts to answer these questions and more through an examination of the ongoing process of state-creation in Andean nations. Focusing on the everyday, extra-official, and frequently invisible or partially concealed permutations of rule in the lives of Andean people, the essays explore the material and cultural processes by which states come to appear as real and tangible parts of everyday life. In particular, they focus on the critical role of emotion, imagination, and fantasy in generating belief in the state, among the governed and the governing alike. This approach pushes beyond the limits of the state as conventionally understood to consider how "non-state" acts of governance intersect with official institutions of government, while never being entirely determined by them or bound to their authorizing agendas. State Theory and Andean Politics asserts that the state is not simply an institutional-bureaucratic apparatus but one of many forces vying for a claim to legitimate political dominion.

Featuring an impressive array of Andeanist scholars as well as eminent state theorists Akhil Gupta and Gyanendra Pandey, State Theory and Andean Politics makes a bold and novel claim about the nature of states and state-making that deepens understanding not only of the Andes and Global South but of the world at large.

Contributors: Kim Clark, Nicole Fabricant, Lesley Gill, Akhil Gupta, Christopher Krupa, David Nugent, Gyanendra Pandey, Mercedes Prieto, Maria Clemencia Ramérez, Irene Silverblatt, Karen Spalding, Winifred Tate.


Christopher Krupa and David Nugent

The Andean region has become a site of unprecedented global concern and curiosity in recent years. Governments that represent diverse and often unorthodox followings, and that claim variously to lead or constrain a continentwide anti-neoliberal vanguard, have made the Andean region a powerful signifier of hope and fear for political observers around the world. Indeed, constituencies located at multiple sites and scales—local, regional, and transnational—have looked to the states of the Andean region to implement deeply held and often conflicting ideas about social justice, economic prosperity, and individual well-being. One need only compare the self-righteous (and exceptionally violent) efforts of the U.S. government to eradicate coca production in the Andean region with the celebrations surrounding the election of former cocalero Evo Morales to the Bolivian presidency to appreciate the radically different hopes and fears associated with the polities and political actors of the region.

In part, these diverse and contradictory expectations have emerged out of a specific historical conjuncture. the last several decades have been witness to major restructuring initiatives that have generated contradictory waves of governmental contraction and expansion in the Andes. These initiatives have been associated with shifting and often violently induced redistributions of political, economic, and social tasks within and between public and private sectors, and have been accompanied by widespread debate over the meaning . . .

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