Democracy, indigenous movements, and the postliberal challenge in Latin America

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Scholars of democratic consolidation have come to focus on the links between political institutions and enduring regime outcomes. This article takes issue with the conceptual and analytical underpinnings of this literature by highlighting how new political institutions, rather than securing democratic politics, have in fact had a more checkered effect. It delineates why the theoretical expectations of the democratic consolidation literature have not been realized and draws, by example, on the contemporary ethnic movements that are now challenging third-wave democracies. In particular, it highlights how contemporary indigenous movements, emrging in response to unevenly institutionalized reforms, pose a postliberal challenge to Latin America's newly founded democracies. These movements have sparked political debates and constitutional reforms over community rights, territorial autonomy, and a multiethnic citizenry. As a whole, they have laid bare the weakness of state institutions, the contested terms of democracy, and the indeterminacy of ethnic accommodation in the region. As such, these movements highlight the need to qualify somewhat premature and narrow discussions of democratic consolidation in favor of a broader research agenda on democratic politics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)76-104
Number of pages29
JournalWorld Politics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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