Understanding the politics of Latin America's Plural Lefts (Chávez/Lula): Social democracy, populism and convergence on the path to a post-neoliberal world
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This article explores the academic and public debate on the politics of Latin America's twenty-first century turn towards the left. It rejects dichotomous categorisations of 'social democratic' and 'populist' lefts as a disciplinary move by neoliberals that appeals to entrenched liberal predispositions. It suggests that such classificatory taxonomies are directly linked to an impoverished notion of the political, in which a politics of exalted expertise and enlightenment, based on reason, rationality and objectivity is juxtaposed against a lesser sphere of emotion, passion and 'personalism'. This underlying dualism, which permeates academic disciplines and crosses lines of ideology, tracks established markers of hierarchical distinction in societies profoundly divided along multiple lines of class and cultural capital. This is explored through an analysis of the discourse of Chavez vis-a-vis Lula, while offering an appreciation of the subaltern origin of Lula's distinctive style of political leadership, from trade unionism to the presidency, based upon the creation of spaces of convergence.
Published Version (Please cite this version)10.1080/01436590802681090
Publication InfoFrench, JD (2009). Understanding the politics of Latin America's Plural Lefts (Chávez/Lula): Social democracy, populism and convergence on the path to a post-neoliberal world. Third World Quarterly, 30(2). pp. 349-370. 10.1080/01436590802681090. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/6564.
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Professor of History
I am a professor of History at Duke University with secondary appointments in African and African-American as well as International Comparative Studies in Durham North Carolina. With a B.A. from Amherst College, I received my doctorate at Yale in 1985 under Brazilian historian Emília Viotti da Costa. Since 1979, I have been studying class, race, and politics in Brazil from UNC Press zil, Latin America, and beyond with 48 refereed articles and four books. My newest monograph is forthc