2016 October Reviews

CARACAS-480x320.jpg CARACAS-1240x550.jpg
Caracas, Venezuela

Donald Kingsbury. Oil's Colonial Residues: Geopolitics, Identity, and Resistance in Venezuela. Bulletin of Latin American Research. October 2016, Vol. 35 Issue 4

Most of the 20th century, Venezuelan political economy was defined by oil. Oil is believed to be an integral part of the Venezuelan modernity. However, this modernity has differed from that of North Atlantic oil producers and consumers, such as Canada or the United States. Political economy literature tends to focus on the notions of the “resource curse” and the “rentier state” referring to the development of the oil industry in Venezuela. After rich subsoil was discovered, General Vicente Gómez, the strongman and the de facto ruler of Venezuela from 1908 to 1935, made contracts with foreign oil investors and charged them for access to the resources. The rents then were distributed among his allies. This laid foundations for underdevelopment and rentier capitalism, where the access to oil resources was monopolized by the ruling elite, without contributing to society. This system impeded the development of the domestic bourgeoisie and created the nationwide mentality of developmental inferiority to the West. In his article, Donald Kingsbury takes oil beyond the realm of political economy and explores the concept of the “coloniality of oil,” that is, the discursive representation of Venezuela as an underdeveloped nation, a reflection of global dynamics of power. He argues that the 1989 popular uprising in Caracas (el caracazo) and the election of Hugo Chavez in 1998 present a reactionary “decolonizing moment,” a departure from the global developmentalist rhetoric, an attempt to move beyond the global logics of domination and subordination. He praises the Bolivarian Revolution of Chavez with its emphasis on collective forms of economic production that has done much to break with the nationwide mentality defined by the developmental inferiority to the West. The author concludes that this “decolonizing moment” is still a work in progress. And the key to its present and its future lies in recognizing the authentic nature of Venezuelan society, different from the West but not inferior to it.

Abstract: This article argues oil occupies a central role in the discursive universe of Venezuelan underdevelopment, producing anxieties of vulnerability and dependency. These anxieties are internalized and reproduced in what I describe as the coloniality of oil. Coloniality naturalizes, hides, and rewrites maldevelopment – a process in which the developed world stymies growth elsewhere through the machinations of hard or soft power – as underdevelopment – a neutral category suggesting the developing world need only to catch up to the North Atlantic. Animated by the formation of new political subjectivities, the Bolivarian Revolution has attempted to break with this coloniality of oil.

Anne Marie Choup. Beyond Domestic Violence Survivor Services: Refocusing on Inequality in the Fight against Gender-Based Violence in the Americas. Bulletin of Latin American Research. October 2016, Vol. 35 Issue 4.

Violence against women (VAW) is a pervasive phenomenon in the Americas, where an average of 40 percent of women have been victims of gender-based violence in their life. Causes of VAW in Latin America include legal structures and an ideology of patriarchy rooted in colonial legacies (in some countries, domestic violence cases are disputed in family courts and the offenders are not punished as severely as they would be in a criminal court); and unequal power relations between men and women which intersects with racial and social inequality (for example, women’s claims are often dismissed by officials because a victim belongs to a marginalized group). This inequality creates a dangerous environment for women where the society tolerates the acts of violence against them. Inequality between the sexes is also a condition that propels VAW during situations of economic stress, when men lose their dominant position due to armed conflict, displacement, or underemployment. Anne Marie Choup assesses policy programs addressing this problem among country members of the Organization of American States (OAS). She finds a great mismatch between policy recommendations from scholarly research and legislative programs to combat violence against women. Experts have long emphasized the need to reduce inequality in order to reduce VAW. However, she argues, most policy initiatives are focused on attention to the victims of VAW without recognizing the underlying causes of this violence. In order to tackle the problem of VAW, Choup concludes, policy practices need to re-focus on tackling inequality.

Abstract: Despite a consensus in the Americas that gender-based violence is rooted in inequality and historic precedent and exacerbated by socio-economic hardship, government programs and institutional evaluations of programs to combat violence against women tend not to tackle the problem at source. Instead, governments and policy evaluations tend to focus on domestic violence survivor services. This article analyses current work to evaluate government efforts to fight violence against women and unpacks scholarly and policy consensus on the root causes of the violence. I then illustrate the disconnect between root causes of violence and government programs, to emphasize the need to link programs more closely to agreed-upon causes of violence.

Chandra Russo. 2016. Witness Against Torture, Guantánamo and solidarity as resistance.Race & Class. 58, 2: 4-22.

Through “their expression of solidarity” with the men locked up at Guantánamo Bay, the U.S.-based activist group Witness Against Torture (WAT) “strikes at the heart of the racial logics of contemporary Empire,” suggests Chandra Russo in “Witness Against Torture, Guantánamo and solidarity as resistance.”  Noting that structures of empire (such as the American detention camp in Cuba) require a type of solidarity from various publics to function as normal, Russo details how WAT withholds that solidarity and gives it to the detainees instead. In so doing, WAT “reveals and contests imperial logics” in various ways, three of which are detailed in this ethnographic study. Since what happens at Guantanamo Bay is not meant to be seen, since the prisoners must be dehumanized, and since the practices of indefinite detention and torture must be distanced from policing practices in the United States, Witness Against Torture counters each of these logics by forcing the opposite to occur. This reveals the nature of the U.S. national security state, which is Russo’s foremost concern in this article. However, by describing how WAT makes American practices in a Caribbean space visible within the United States, Russo also, it seems, reveals WAT’s activism as being quintessentially of what Frank Andre Guridy has called the U.S.-Caribbean World.

Abstract: The Guantánamo Bay detention camp is a quintessential structure of the US national security state and contemporary Empire. For such imperial formations to proceed as if they are ‘normal’ requires solidarity from various publics. This paper explores what it means to refuse such solidarity through an ethnographic examination of Witness Against Torture (WAT), a group of US citizens enacting solidarity with the men detained at Guantánamo. WAT’s tactical repertoire intervenes in three ways. The Guantánamo prison is not supposed to be seen, but WAT travels there to expose state secrets and the administration’s myth of transparency. The prisoners are not supposed to be heard, but WAT publicly amplifies their testimonies through affectively potent street performances. Indefinite detention and torture are meant to remain distant, but WAT links the plight of detainees to that of Black communities in the US interior. Through these acts, WAT simultaneously reveals and contests the culture of erasure and radical divisiveness upon which the US national security state depends. 

Annette K. Joseph-Gabriel. 2016. Beyond the Great Camouflage: Haiti in Suzanne Césaire’s Politics and Poetics of Liberation. Small Axe 20, 2 50: 4-22.

Though an important thinker in her own right, Suzanne Césaire is often overshadowed by her husband, Aimé Césaire. In “Beyond the Great Camouflage: Haiti in Suzanne Césaire’s Politics and Poetics of Liberation,” Annette K. Joseph-Gabriel contributes to the small but growing body of literature on Suzanne Césaire by resituating her work in the context of her five-month stay in Haiti in 1944. Having gained access to some of Césaire’s personal letters and other unpublished writings, Joseph-Gabriel’s archival discoveries reveal Césaire’s contribution to the overthrow of Haitian president Elie Lescot in 1946, a moment which has been called the “other Haitian Revolution,” as well as how her time in Haiti impacted her ideas on Caribbean identity. Joseph-Gabriel considers Haiti to be “central to the evolution of [Suzanne Césaire’s] focus from the relationship between Martinique and France to that between Martinique and the rest of the Caribbean,” and suggests that through her time in Haiti Suzanne “practiced a joint politics and poetics of liberation” which ultimately became Pan-Caribbean in scope.

Abstract: Suzanne Césaire's essays in Tropiques make an important intervention in imagining a new Martinican and ultimately Pan-Caribbean identity during World War II. This study examines Césaire's joint politics and poetics of liberation in the context of dissidence in Martinique. A close reading of her essays alongside previously uncited personal correspondence reveals Haiti to be central to her vision for a Caribbean cultural renaissance after the death and destruction of the war.

Johanna Gonçalves Martín. 2016. Opening a Path with Papers: Yanomami Health Agents and Their Use of Medical Documents. The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology 21, 3: 434-456.

If the Yanomami, concerned about a sick member of their community, were to send a message to a doctor orally, that doctor would likely discard the message as a mere rumor. Writing a letter instead, Johanna Gonçalves Martín writes, “is an implicit way of doing evidence in a medical sense,” a way of ensuring response. In “Opening a Path with Papers: Yanomami Health Agents and Their Use of Medical Documents,” Martín examines how the Yanomami people use documents to navigate a bureaucratic health care system. Documents are a pervasive characteristic of modern medical care, and have been understood as being a component of the “clinical gaze” and the reorganization of knowledge, amongst other tendencies. Yet for the Yanomami, Martín argues, medical documents have a different logic. Documents, Martín suggests, are “performative objects with effects beyond their textual content.” It is their ability to travel and open paths and connections that make documents valuable to the Yanomami, and they ultimately allow the Yanomami to assert more control over their relations with napë doctors and public health authorities.

Abstract: This article explores how Yanomami health agents use and produce documents in Upper Orinoco health posts in Venezuela. In recent decades, a growing number of Yanomami people have learned to read, write, and count, and to make use of different kinds of documents. Yanomami health agents are a particular case example, as health care involves constant production of documents about patients and their diseases. For doctors, documents such as epidemiological registries are useful in the production of collective knowledge about health and disease, or for administrative purposes in relation to a western logic of bureaucratic systems. However, for the Yanomami, these medical documents are relational objects, which open connections to the world of others, and technologies that allow them to be and “do” like the doctors. The Yanomami often speak of their engagement with the health system as “walking the path of health.” An important way to achieve this is learning how to produce medical documents.

Bimala Sharma, Eun Woo Nam, Dohyeong Kim, Young Min Yoon, Yeunju Kim, and Ha Yun Kim. 2016. Role of gender, family, lifestyle and psychological factors in self-rated health among urban adolescents in Peru: a school-based cross-sectional survey. BMJ open 6, 2 (2016): e010149.

What’s affecting the health of teens in Peru? Sharma and colleagues recently set out to ask that question in a large sample of adolescents in Lima and Callao. Strikingly, about a third of the Peruvian teens sampled described their health as poor/fair, compared to about 15 percent in the U.S. The most prevalent factors associated with poor adolescent health? Missing a meal during the past month due to lack of food (about one tenth of the sample endorsed this), lacking physical exercise, and being absent from school were all risk factors for poor health. In addition, a glaring 40 percent of female respondents reported poor self-health, compared to only about 20 percent of male adolescents. Because these findings were cross-sectional, the mechanisms of this gender difference in self-reported health remain to be investigated. Readers, do you know why Peru’s girls are ailing?

Abstract: Objective: We examined the role of gender, family, lifestyle and psychological factors in self-rated health. […] Conclusions: Gender, missing meals due to a shortage of food, family support, physical activity and life satisfaction influenced self-rated health among adolescents in Peru. Interventions that focus on promoting physical activity for at least 1 h each day for 3 or more days per week, food security and strengthening supportive family roles may improve self-rated health during adolescence.

Mollie Cohen & Amy Erica Smith. Do Authoritarians Vote for Authoritarians? Evidence from Latin America. Research and Politics. (in press, 2016).

With more than half of Americans still struggling to digest the results of the 2016 presidential election, Cohen and Smith (2016) provide relevant examples from Latin America of the relationship between personality factors and voter preferences. Just as education was the strongest predictor of candidate preference among Americans in the recent U.S. election, education has been the most consistent variable associated with support for authoritarian candidates in elections across Latin America, over time. How is authoritarianism quantified in this article? Cohen and Smith actually employ a measure of authoritarian parenting, arguing that individuals with authoritarian personalities are more likely to support an authoritarian candidate regardless of the current political climate – that is, they are not simply reacting to negative attitudes about an existing democracy. Convincingly, the authors conclude, “it appears the ‘schools of democracy’ may, in fact, be schools.”

Abstract: During the 2016 presidential election campaign in the United States, scholars have argued that authoritarian visions of the family are associated with support for Donald Trump, a candidate also noted to exhibit authoritarian or illiberal tendencies. Though it is plausible that “authoritarian” citizens (defined by parenting attitudes) vote for “authoritarian” candidates (defined by disrespect for democratic institutions), past research provides relatively little guide regarding this relationship. One reason is that few U.S. candidates announce overtly authoritarian views. Latin America, by contrast, has had many such candidates. We take advantage of this variation using the 2012 Americas Barometer, which applied a battery of authoritarian parenting attitudes. We first describe mass authoritarianism across Latin America, showing it is associated with many social attitudes. We then examine authoritarians’ voting behavior, distinguishing between support for “mano dura” (“strong arm”) candidates, who are usually rightists, and for candidates threatening violations of general civil liberties, who are often leftists in Latin America. We find that authoritarians tend to vote for right-wing authoritarian candidates, while authoritarianism boosts support for candidates threatening civil liberty violations only among citizens identifying on the ideological right. Education is the most consistent determinant reducing support for both leftist and rightist authoritarian candidates.

Maricruz Rivera-Hernandez, Sergio Florez Cerqueda, and José Carlos García Ramírez. 2016. The Growth of Gerontology and Geriatrics in Mexico: Past, Present and Future. Gerontology & Geriatrics Education. October 18, 2016.

Can Mexico take a leaf out of Sweden’s libro to better serve its aging population? Rivera-Hernandez et al. (2016) address the strain that increased life expectancy in Mexico has begun to place on the healthcare system. With a dearth of training opportunities in geriatrics, little incentive for physicians to take on elderly care, and insufficient palliative care opportunities, Mexico will need to consider the feasibility of public and private initiatives to enhance coordinated elderly care.

Abstract: Life expectancy is increasing in Mexico, creating new opportunities and challenges in different areas, including gerontology and geriatric education and research. While in the European Union there are more than 3,000 institutions that focus on aging research, in Latin America there are only 250 programs where theoretical and practical knowledge is taught. In Mexico, the number of institutions that offer gerontology and geriatric education is relatively small. One of the major concerns is that Mexico is not adequately prepared to optimally deal with the aging of its population. Thus, the main challenge that Mexico faces is to train practitioners, researchers and policy-makers to be able to respond to the aging priorities of this country. The goal of this review is to investigate the literature regarding 60 years in the fields of gerontology and geriatrics in Mexico. Even when programs have evolved within the past decades, there are some challenges to gerontological and geriatric education and aging research in Mexico. The implications for Mexico are discussed, as well as opportunities for moving these fields forward.

Alfonso Silva-Santisteban, et al. 2016. HIV prevention among transgender women in Latin America: implementation, gaps and challenges. Journal of the International AIDS Society 19.3Suppl 2.

Outside of Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and Uruguay, HIV prevention in Latin America is clouded by stigmatized policy with roots in epidemiological data on HIV, which groups transgender women in the same category as men who have sex with men (MSM). Silva-Santisteban et al. (2016) argue that the paucity of data on the specific subpopulation of transgender women with HIV will continue to stymie tailored interventions for the treatment and prevention of HIV in Latin America. Coupled with mistrust for the healthcare system, lack of access to testing and services, and discrimination in healthcare settings, the dearth of data on HIV in this population underscores the problem of prevention with a sole focus on disease control, rather than a rights-based combination prevention approach.

Abstract: Introduction. Transgender women are the population most vulnerable to HIV in Latin America, with prevalence between 18 and 38%. Although the region has improved antiretroviral coverage, there is an urgent need to strengthen HIV prevention for key populations to meet regional targets set by governments. We conducted an assessment on the state of HIV prevention among transgender women in Latin America. […] Conclusions. Transgender women in Latin America continue to have limited access to HIV prevention services, which presents a bottleneck for reaching prevention goals and incorporating new prevention interventions. Prevention programs should be rights-based; offer tailored, holistic interventions; and involve transgender women in their design and implementation.

Mervyn Bain and Liliana Fernández Mollinedo. 2016. Cuba: Trapped by History-Still? International Politics 53, 2: 260-276.

During its colonial history, Cuba was dominated by Spain. After a brief period of US domination in 1898-1959, Cuban foreign policy was heavily determined by its relationship with the Soviet Union. After the end of the Cold War in 1991, the US-Cuba relationship remained strained until 2014-2015, when the Obama administration initiated the normalization process and first steps towards reconciliation were made. This article evaluates different theories of the Cuba’s foreign policy and attempts to explain its 1992-2014 period by looking at its evolution during previous periods. Bain and Fernández Mollinedo present a historical analysis of Cuban foreign policy towards United States, European Union and Russia and conclude that, despite recent diplomatic improvements between Havana and Washington, their bilateral relationship has been and will be conditioned by the legacies of the past.

Abstract: Throughout its history Cuba has had an intimate relationship with outside powers and since January 1959 Cuban foreign policy has attracted much academic attention. Subsequently, a number of different theories regarding Cuban foreign policy have evolved. These are undoubtedly important, but this article will posit that it is only by examining legacies from the past that a fuller understanding of the island’s bilateral relationships is achieved. In order to do this, the article will examine Cuba’s relationship with the United States, European Union and Russian Federation. Significant change is taking place, but legacies from the past remain important in all three, which have had very different results for Havana’s contemporary relationships with Washington, Brussels and Moscow. Areas of contestation from the past remain unresolved and will continue to be important for the foreseeable future.

Stephen B. Kaplan. 2016. Banking unconditionally: the political economy of Chinese finance in Latin America. Review of International Political Economy 23, 4: 643-676.

 When Western capital markets were shaken by the 2008 economic crisis, the U.S. demand for Chinese exports shrank. As a result, China had to search for new trade opportunities and began expanding its presence in Latin America through investing in infrastructure, construction, and heavy extraction industries. In his article, Kaplan examines Chinese capital investments in Latin America focusing on two China’s largest debtors, Brazil and Venezuela. He shows that the Chinese state-led banking has had a different impact on developing countries’ budgets compared to the traditional Western market-based financing. The article provides a deep insight into the debate about the role of China in Latin America within the disciplines of International Political Economy and International Relations.

Abstract: Globalization scholars have long-debated to what extent economic integration, and, specifically, mobile private capital, constrains national policy-making. With Western capital reeling from the 2008 financial crisis, state-owned capital made inroads globally. China, as the world's largest saver, expanded its cross-border lending, funneling almost USD300 billion to developing countries since the crisis. What are the implications for debtor governments’ room to maneuver? I contend that China's state-led capitalism is an important form of patient capital, characterized by a longer term horizon. I argue that its rapid global expansion has transformed the traditional relationship between economic interdependence and national policy autonomy. Without the market's threat of short-term capital withdrawal, national governments have considerably more room to maneuver. Given the recent emergence of Chinese financing, I employ a comparative case study analysis of two of China's largest debtors – Brazil and Venezuela – before and after the introduction of Chinese credit. I find that government budget deficits increase as Chinese state-to-state financing accounts for a larger share of total external public financing. These findings offer important new insights for the study of globalization, Latin American development, and China–Latin American relations, by helping explain the conditions under which nations veer from Western governance models.

Jeremy Adelman & Margarita Fajardo. 2016. Between Capitalism and Democracy: A Study in the Political Economy of Ideas in Latin America. 1968-1980. Latin American Research Review 51, 3: 3-22.

In this work of transnational intellectual history Jeremy Adelman and Margarita Fajardo illustrate how an important group of social scientists based in both Latin American and the United States reoriented their field “away from the problems of underdevelopment” and towards “the possibilities for democracy” as they thought through the notions of dependency and bureaucratic authoritarianism, two foundational concepts in Latin American social sciences. Billed as being a study of both “the political economy of ideas” as well as “ideas about political economy,” Adelman and Fajardo illustrate how scholars such as Guillermo O'Donnell, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Albert Hirschman, David Collier, and others established their academic network and how their reliance on funding from private institutions shaped their intellectual engagements. The article also shows how these scholars responded to the increasingly authoritarian political context of Latin America. Their “thoughtful wishing,” Adelman and Fajardo argue, helped reconceptualise development and democracy at a time when there was little faith in either concept. Ultimately, this article demonstrates the importance that intellectuals outside the traditional centers of knowledge production have had in developing the notions “that shaped global understandings of capitalism and democracy.”

Abstract: This article tells the story of how an important group of social scientists in Latin America turned away from the problems of underdevelopment to the possibilities for democracy. It focuses on a network of leading Latin American intellectuals and their North American counterparts brought together by material stringencies as well as intellectual and political concerns arising from the sweeping wave of authoritarianism in the region. Brokered by private institutions and mediated by personal encounters, the decade-long endeavors of the network reveal the mechanisms through which social scientific paradigms are undone and refashioned.

Sian Lazar. 2016. Notions of Work, Patrimony, and Production in the Life of the Colón Opera House. The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology 21, 2: 231-253.

In 2009 the workers of the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, one of the most celebrated opera houses of the southern hemisphere, engaged in a form of theatre of a very different kind - the theatre of protest - as they struggled to resolve a prolonged labour conflict with the theatre’s management and the municipal government. In this article Sian Lazar provides an ethnological examination of the workers’ “state of permanent mobilization,” illustrating that these Argentine cultural workers had a vastly different understanding and appreciation for their work than the municipal administrators did. Against the neoliberal logic put forth by the city government, which was concerned only with rédito económico (economic profit), and against the perception that the Colón hosted only elitist cultural activity, these state employees emphasized the rédito social (social good) of their labour and of the Buenos Aires’ cultural patrimony. Yet in challenging the ongoing “neoloberalization” of the Argentine state the Colón’s employees, Lazar shows, were forced to confront whether they were primarily workers or artists, a tension amplified by the great “immaterial” nature of their work. As Karen Ann Faulk writes in the introduction to this edition of JLACA, in doing so Lazar joins with the other authors contained within this dossier on Work in in Argentina in the 21st Century to “collectively support a shift in the focus of the study of work from a concern with the productive value of labor to a reorientation toward nonmaterial, noneconomic aspects, such as the meaning of work and of being a worker.”

Abstract: This article discusses a conflict that took place among the municipal government, the management, and the workers of Buenos Aires’ opera house, the Colón, at the end of the 2000s. A group of workers organized a “state of permanent mobilization” during 2009 to demonstrate against the closure of the opera house for refurbishment and the firing of around 370 of their number. Their argument was that the Colón was being turned from a “factory theater” with its own technical and artistic staff into a venue for touring productions and retail outlets. The story of the Colón, then, was the story of the “neoliberalization” of the Argentine state in miniature: a move from production to subcontracting, with attendant labor flexibilization, loss of domestic technical skills, business logic, and possibly even the destruction of architectural monuments. However, since the conflict was about one of the most celebrated opera houses in the hemisphere, the workers’ story was also entangled in questions of elitism, cultural and architectural heritage, and the role of (high) cultural institutions in society. In telling the conflict from the perspective of the mobilized workers, this research explores their notions of work and production. It asks if culture or art can be produced in a material sense, and whether the material metaphor (of being workers in a “factory theater”) is more than just a means of mobilizing people. [Argentina, culture, labor, production]

Kate Paarlberg-Kvam. 2016. Women on the Frontlines of the Colombian Peace Movement. NACLA Report on the Americas. October 14.

In what has been termed “Colombia’s Brexit,” Colombian citizens surprisingly voted on October 2nd to reject a peace accord with FARC and end the longest-running conflict in the hemisphere. As Kate Paarlberg-Kvam clarifies, however, this was no anti-establishment vote. Suggesting that Colombia’s ongoing conflict is now a conflict between the elites and the popular sector as much as it is between the state and the guerrillas, she illustrates how Colombia’s right-wing mobilized against the peace accord due to its “gender ideology.” Due to the noteworthy involvement of feminist groups and women more generally in the peace process, Paarlberg-Kvam argues, the peace accord recognized and significantly addressed the gender dynamics of the conflict. The rejection of the deal has sidelined their work, though, and despite feminist organizations’ continued efforts to work for peace, any future agreement to end the fighting in Colombia is unlikely to address the gendered nature of the conflict in a substantial way.

Abstract: Women peace activists continue to play a crucial role in paving the way towards a peace accord in Colombia that promotes gender justice in the face of conservative opposition.

Fabiano Santos and Fernando Guarnieri. 2016. From Protest to Parliamentary Coup: An Overview of Brazil’s Recent History. Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies 25, 4: 1-10.

Earlier this year Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and her PT government were overthrown in a parliamentary coup. In this article Fabiano Santos & Fernando Guarnieri examine the “juridical-mediatic manipulation of electoral democracy” that enabled the coup, tracing political developments from the massive protests of June 2013 through to Rousseff’s impeachment this summer. After demonstrating how frustrations with corruption enabled protests ostensibly against transit fare hikes to capture widespread support and encompass a wide swath of Sao Paulo’s population, Santos & Guarnieri illustrate how Brazil’s neo-right captured the political initiative from left-wing social movements. Likening the process that led to Rousseff’s impeachment to an improvised “play without an author,” the authors track the cast of characters who enabled or actively participated in the coup. The article concludes with a reflection on the strength of Brazil’s democratic institutions, finding that the country’s model of governance should be able to withstand the recent political intrigues.

Abstract: Brazil’s parliamentary coup has managed to topple the elected PT government with remarkable ease, meeting with little resistance at home or abroad despite the blatant violation of constitutional norms and the almost farcically corrupt record of the new incumbents. How has the neo-right been able to transfer its script of juridical-mediatic manipulation of electoral democracy, previously rehearsed on smaller stages such as Honduras and Paraguay, to the regional hegemon? What are the stakes and perspectives for Brazil’s political institutions, and are there any possibilities left for emancipatory movements? Two leading political scientists from Rio de Janeiro chronicle the events so far.

Hernán Flom and Alison Post. 2016. Blame Avoidance and Policy Stability in Developing Democracies: The Politics of Public Security in Buenos Aires. Comparative Politics 49, 1: 23-46.

Young democracies of Latin America share the problem of weak institutions, insecurity, high incarceration rates and stalled police and criminal justice reforms. On the one hand, progressive reforms to the criminal code have been insufficient, weakly enforced and vulnerable to power shifts within the governments. On the other hand, punitive criminal justice policies are deeply entrenched across the region and routinely enforced. Hernán Flom and Alison Post explain these contrasting trends by studying the case of Buenos Aires. Beyond providing useful insight into important problems of insecurity and police ineffectiveness in the region, the authors make an important theoretical contribution to the rational choice institutionalism literature within the field of Comparative Politics.

Abstract. Democratization originally inspired hope that new regimes would privilege human rights. However, progressive reforms to the criminal code have been insufficient to stem dramatic increases in incarceration rates, and developing democracies have made little headway reforming their ineffective police forces. How can we explain the stability and enforcement of punitive criminal justice policies and the erosion of police reforms? We offer a novel theoretical explanation of these contrasting patterns through a comparison of these two policy areas in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Incentives to avoid blame for salient crimes discourage politicians from repealing punitive criminal justice policies and incentivize judges to enforce them. Responsibility for failed police reforms, however, is harder to assign, giving the police and their allies opportunities to undermine them.

Eve Kalyva. 2016. The Rhetoric of Disobedience: Art and Power in Latin America. Latin American Research Review 51, 2: 46-66.

Kalyva presents a convincing analysis of the dialectical relationship between art and politics in several Latin American contexts. By examining three critical artistic projects from Chile and Argentina, the author demonstrates how the art’s social function is achieved through political interventions, such as street actions, projects in marginalized neighborhoods, and local collaborations. The article reveals that artistic practices are not only shaped by sociopolitical context but also can shape and change this context itself. The article's importance lies in presenting the art not just as a product but as a producer, a creator of social behaviors that can potentially transform the social sphere and impact the democratization process.

Abstract. The transformation of Latin American societies from the 1970s onward and the recent sociopolitical and economic changes at a global scale call for reconsiderations of the relation between art and power and its role in processes of democratization. This article examines art’s social function and its understanding as transformative social praxis—an activity that reflects upon the world and seeks to change it, and that at the same time critically reflects upon its own condition and relation to that world. It specifically suggests the idea of art’s rhetoric in order to conceptualize art’s critical potential and identify processes that generate and displace meaning across artistic, sociopolitical, and discursive contexts. Tucumán Arde (1968) in Argentina, Colectivo Actiones de Arte’s Para no morir de hambre en el arte (1979) in Chile, and Proyecto Venus (2000–2006), based in Buenos Aires, use interdisciplinary methodologies to critically intersect the public sphere. They scrutinize art’s position in society, seek to raise awareness, and act as alternative networks of information and socialization.

David R. Kolara, Dania L. Mejía Rodriguez, Moises Mebarak Chams, and Hans W. Hoekd. 2016. Epidemiology of Eating Disorders in Latin America: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Current Opinion in Psychiatry 29, 6: 363-71.

Kolar et al. (2016) present evidence in response to the question of prevalence rates of eating disorders in Latin America compared to more traditionally Western cultures. Employing a meta-analytic technique, with results from studies in samples from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela, the authors found that the prevalence rates for anorexia nervosa were lower in Latin American cultures, whereas the rates of bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder were elevated. Related to the increasing interest in cultural differences in risk for eating disorders, a growing number of psychologists have speculated as to the differential impact of cultural values on the different subtypes of eating disorders. While evidence suggests that anorexia has been present cross-historically and extends across cultures, bulimia and general binge eating are thought to be more culturally influenced, with evidence to suggest that rates increase in tandem with Westernization. Consequently, the results from the present study represent a somewhat surprising twist with respect to conceptions of the innate and environmental risk factors for disordered eating.

Abstract. Eating disorders are currently not considered to be limited to Western culture. We systematically reviewed the existing literature on the prevalence of eating disorders in Latin America. Of 1583 records screened, 17 studies from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela were included in the analysis. Most studies reported point-prevalence rates and only three studies provided lifetime and 12-month prevalence rates. We found a mean point-prevalence rate of 0.1% for anorexia nervosa, 1.16% for bulimia nervosa, and 3.53% for binge-eating disorder (BED) in the general population. Heterogeneity for bulimia nervosa and BED was large. This meta-analysis indicates that the prevalence of anorexia nervosa seems to be lower, whereas the prevalence of bulimia nervosa and especially of BED seems to be higher in Latin America than in Western countries. Our findings show that eating disorders are common mental disorders in Latin America. However, some facets of Latin American culture might be protective for the development of anorexia nervosa and increase the risk for bulimia nervosa and BED. Further studies investigating the epidemiology of eating disorders and their relation to culture in Latin America are needed.

Video abstract: http://links.lww.com/YCO/A35

Spanish abstract: http://links.lww.com/YCO/A36

Steve Kisely, Karolina Katarzyna Alichniewicz, Emma B. Black, Dan Siskind, Geoffrey Spurling, Maree Toombs. 2016. The Prevalence of Depression and Anxiety Disorders in Indigenous People of the Americas: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Journal of Psychiatric Research 84: 137-152.

Are members of indigenous groups in the Americas at an increased risk of developing a psychiatric disorder? Alternatively, are there certain protective factors associated with collectivistic, traditional cultures when it comes to mental disorders? Kisely et al. (2017) performed a meta-analysis to answer these questions: By aggregating results from studies that included both indigenous groups and non-indigenous groups with similar socioeconomic and ethnic characteristics, the authors were able to ascertain the association of indigenous culture with depression and anxiety disorders. Lower rates of generalized anxiety, panic, and depressive disorders were found in indigenous samples. However, rates of post-traumatic stress disorder and social phobia were higher. Given that suicide rates are two to three times higher in certain indigenous populations, there is a need to understand the discrepancies in rates of psychiatric morbidities. Are the measurement tools employed in indigenous communities valid? Do these numbers reflect real differences in prevalence of disorders, or rather a reticence of certain community members to disclose psychiatric symptoms to an outsider? Or alternatively, are certain symptoms somaticized or even accepted as culturally normative? What types of trauma are associated with indigenous groups in the Americas, and given the fallibility of the dose-response theory of PTSD, are there sociocultural factors that explain the increased risk of developing PTSD in indigenous populations?

Abstract. Indigenous populations are considered at higher risk of psychiatric disorder but many studies do not include direct comparisons with similar non-Indigenous controls. We undertook a meta-analysis of studies that compared the prevalence of depression and anxiety disorders in Indigenous populations in the Americas with those of non-Indigenous groups with similar socio-demographic features (Registration number: CRD42015025854). A systematic search of PubMed, Medline, PsycInfo, PsycArticles, ScienceDirect, EMBASE, and article bibliographies was performed. We included comparisons of lifetime rates and prevalence of up to 12 months. We found 19 studies (n = 250, 959) from Latin America, Canada and the US. There were no differences between Indigenous and similar non-Indigenous groups in the 12- month prevalence of depressive, generalized anxiety and panic disorders. However, Indigenous people were at greater risk of PTSD. For lifetime prevalence, rates of generalized anxiety, panic and all the depressive disorders were significantly lower in Indigenous participants, whilst PTSD (on adjusted analyses) and social phobia were significantly higher. Results were similar for sub-analyses of Latin America, Canada and the US, and sensitivity analyses by study quality or setting (e.g. health, community etc.). Risk factors for psychiatric illness may therefore be a complex interaction of biological, educational, economic and socio-cultural factors that may vary between disorders. Accordingly, interventions should reflect that the association between disadvantage and psychiatric illness is rarely due to one factor. However, it is also possible that assessment tools don't accurately measure psychiatric symptoms in Indigenous populations and that further cross-cultural validation of diagnostic instruments may be needed too.

Alexis M. Kalergis, Marcus Lacerda, Gabriel A. Rabinovich, and Yvonne Rosenstein. 2016. Challenges for Scientists in Latin America. Trends in Molecular Medicine 22, 9: 743-745.

Can the brain drain in Latin America be stopped? Although Latin Americans represent roughly 9 percent of the global population, Latin American countries produce only about 3.5 percent of the world’s scientists. Kalergis et al. (2016) cite reasons for this as a lack of GDP investment in research and development, which leads to 10 times fewer researchers per million individuals in Latin American countries compared to countries such as the U.S., Germany, or Japan. With this in mind, the authors discuss options for incentivizing researchers from Latin American countries to stay in Latin America. “In conclusion, being a biomedical scientist in LA means living between several worlds: being committed to performing world-class research, aiming to boost the profile of the region on the science and technology map, while suffering socioeconomic storms, political changes, and bureaucratic obstacles. These unfortunately, widen the scientific gap between LA and developed countries, delaying the dream of a continuous world-class performance. Hopefully, the future might yield a better outcome…”

Abstract. Despite political turmoil and economic crisis, research in Latin America has considerably advanced over recent decades. The present ‘Point of View’ outlines our perspectives on the working conditions, successes, difficulties, limitations, and challenges of biomedical scientific communities in four Latin American countries: Argentina (G.A.R.), Brazil (M.L.), Chile (A.K.), and Mexico (Y.R.).