The Department of Government
The Department of Government
Ethnic Politics in Latin America

The Rise of Ethnic Politics in Latin America

Raúl Madrid is part of a core of faculty members studying Latin American politics, which, as a whole, has benefitted greatly from the vision of philanthropists Joe and Teresa Lozano Long who announced in 2000 a $10 million gift to endow Latin American studies at The University of Texas at Austin. Madrid’s most recent book analyzes the fate of indigenous political parties in seven Latin American countries (Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Guatemala, Colombia, Venezuela, and Nicaragua).

The Rise of Ethnic Politics in Latin America explores why indigenous movements have recently won elections for the first time in the history of the region. Madrid argues that some indigenous parties have won by using inclusive populist appeals to reach out to whites and mestizos. Indigenous parties have managed to win support across ethnic lines because the long history of racial mixing in Latin America blurred ethnic boundaries and reduced ethnic polarization. The appeals of the indigenous parties have especially resonated in the Andean countries because of widespread disenchantment with the region's traditional parties.

“This is a well-executed and timely book. Madrid offers a novel theory about the success of ethnic parties under conditions of ethnic fluidity and intra-ethnic group fragmentation. Empirically, the author impressively triangulates qualitative and quantitative evidence from in-depth country studies to illustrate his story. The book contributes both to the general theoretical literature about the success of ethnic parties and the literature specifically focusing on Latin America. The policy implications drawn out in the last chapter and, to a lesser degree, in the substantive chapters are interesting and thought provoking. This book is an excellent read for anyone interested in ethnic politics in Latin America and beyond.” - Jóhanna K. Birnir, University of Maryland

“In this thoroughly researched and well-crafted book, Raúl Madrid upends existing explanations for the rise and success of indigenous parties in Latin America while also challenging the broader scholarship on ethnic politics. Madrid convincingly shows that neither institutional change nor social movements are the primary drivers behind the success of indigenous parties; what matters most is a strategy of inclusive populism.” - Christina Ewig, University of Wisconsin, Madison

The Rise of Ethnic Politics in Latin America makes a major contribution to the study of ethnic politics. Madrid reconceptualizes ethnic mobilization in a way that takes seriously the mixed and fluid character of ethnic identities in Latin America, and he shows that ethnic parties only succeed in the region when they make inclusive appeals that go beyond ethnicity. Moreover, the book offers the most sophisticated analysis I have seen of the impact of ethno-populist movements on democracy in Latin America. Madrid's book helps us understand the distinct character of ethnic politics in Latin America, but I suspect it will travel beyond Latin America. I recommend it not only to students of Latin American politics, but to anyone interested in ethnic politics.” - Steven Levitsky, Harvard University

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