Conference Papers

Panel 1 (double panel) Crisis, dependency and social struggles in Latin America in, through and beyond neoliberal capitalism

Chair: Henrike Neuhaus (London) and Mariano Féliz (La Plata).  June 17th, 15:00 – 17:00 CEST and 18:00-20:00 CEST

Annette Maguire (Newcastle)

The salience of the concept of precarity (Standing, 2015) grew exponentially in the wake of the global pandemic, preceded as it was by the long recession following the GFC in 2007. Theorists such as Silvia Federici (2018) and Isabell Lorey (2015) offer an incisive analysis of precarity through a gendered lens, illuminating how the burden of reproductive labour, which continues to fall on the shoulders of women, crucially affects their overall position in the labour market. Indeed, neoliberal austerity intensifies this ‘shadow work,’ as governments and employers off-load their responsibilities for the health and welfare of the workforce (Harcourt, 2009). In the ongoing fallout of the global pandemic, this is clearer than ever.

In this context, the collusion of corporate feminism with neoliberalism is particularly egregious, of which Nancy Fraser (2019) is among the most trenchant critics. Her most recent book, with Tithi Bhattacharya and Cinzia Arruzza (2019), is a timely critique of neoliberal feminism from a critical political economy perspective, and a clarion call for an intersectional, anti-capitalist alternative. However, what their manifesto overlooks is the success with which social movements are constructing this alternative in the here and now, in the form of the international #FeministStrike. This paper hopes to spotlight the political subjects who are animating the Strike – feminists of the global South – from its birthplace in Argentina to the world. Through movement practices that politicise and collectivise the work of reproduction, these protagonists resignify concepts of work, class, and solidarity from a feminist standpoint. In so doing, they may be inventing the most effective challenge yet to the global malaise of precarity and it’s proto-fascist political repercussions.

Fernando Toro (London) and Gabriela Sánchez (Santiago)

In the context of the financialisation of housing and everyday life, mortgages and indebtedness have become a key component of the process of capital accumulation in the late neoliberalism. Recent studies have addressed the role of debt as power relation, marketisation of housing rights or domestication of finance, among others, mainly in the global north. This article examines the idea of debt through the lens of relational poverty in the context of financialisation in emerging capitalist economies, and how housing movements are resisting and organizing against its outcomes. A mixed methodology is carried out through data collected from both national financial surveys and in-depth interviews with representatives of three housing movements from Chile. A deductive thematic analysis shows three aspect of these ‘debt systems’: how different forms of debt interplay, merge and form a peripheral debt system; how gender and racial inequalities arises from these relations; and how collective action and solidarity replace individual responses and emerges to contest the different forms of violence, exploitation and domination. Authors calls for more grounded and intersectional analysis of debt in the context of financialisation of housing and everyday life, to examine marginalized groups and heterogeneous types of indebtedness in the periphery, and to trace further connections and comparisons with other housing movements across the world to explore a potential indebted multitude.

After the financial crises of 2008 impact investing emerged in financial markets as a strategy to reorient them to work in favour of the planet and its inhabitants. Its promoters define it as an opportunity to link private investment initiatives, which generate financial returns, with the production of social and environmental benefits. One of the main financial instruments that enable these novel forms of investing are Social Impact Bonds, through which more than 200 public-private partnerships have been generated around the world, since 2015, to contribute to solving social problems.

Drawing from anthropological discussions on deservingness and entitlement this paper presents and analyzes the Colombian program of Social Impact Bonds ( which was designed by international bodies, local private actors and the government having as main intended “beneficiaries” victims of the Colombian armed conflict and “vulnerable people”. The reflections focus on the multi-layered production of deservingness across the life of the Bond, first looking at how international cooperation agencies and development banks prioritize Colombia to be one of the main countries in Latin America in which these initiatives will be established. Second, analyzing how Colombian impact investors produce ideas about which causes deserve to be supported. Third, considering how service providers, like social enterprises and NGOs, determine who are entitled to participate in the projects funded by the Bond, since their success as implementers and the generation of profits for the investors is dependent on the demonstration of measurable positive results. 

Mariano Féliz (La Plata)

There’s been much talk lately regarding the proliferation of a new wave of so-called progressive governments in Latin America. Since the Bolivarian revolution barged in at the beginning of the new century, a series of social and political movements have been able to take up places on the State, many after years of struggles against neoliberal capitalism and its politics.

In Argentina, for example, many social movements have supported the newly elected Peronist government of Alberto Fernández and have gained some positions within the administration. This new governing coalition includes very conservative, right-wing fractions in its ranks. This has brought debate within Argentina’s social movements at large as to the possibilities, and limits of this strategy. Does it help radical reforms, or does just give progressive clout to inherently a conservative political strategy?

The newly elected government has taken progressive steps during the pandemic such as an emergency income transfer program. However, at the same time, with the support of the IMF, it negotiated the foreign debt with almost no cost for speculators and has deepened extractivist policies. At the same time, while creating for the first time in history a Ministry of Women, Genders, and Diversity, it hasn’t been able to stop the multiplication of femicides. Furthermore, as it presents itself as a government that respects human rights and helped Evo Morales escape from certain death during the recent coup in Bolivia, police and military forces in Argentina continue to persecute indigenous communities (notoriously, Mapuchean fighting against mega-mining and fracking) and families that build their precarious homes in unoccupied terrains in the outskirts of big cities.

These contradictions confront social movements within the government and outside-and-against it with the old question of reform or/and revolution. What are the tasks of the radical left in the context of social-democratic, progressive yet conservative, governments? How should the non-parliamentary left stand to their ‘comrades’ that are part of the government coalition? How can the radical left within social moments push for the radicalization of reforms, while keeping at bay and combating right-wing movements within the social-democratic government and outside of it?

This paper hypothesizes that, in attempting to maintain the legitimacy of their developmentalist aspirations amid global and regional reconfigurations, emerging discourses, and perceived threats (such as global calls for sustainable development and income redistribution) authoritarian regimes in Brazil recycle mythologies and even conspiracy theories from the past. At the center of such “mythologies of developmentalism” appear to be an enemy to which blame for the latest crisis of confidence can be assigned and understood by the general public – often an “external aggressor” threatening development and therefore the nation’s very existence – as well as a battleground where forces come to a head over commodities (further complicated when claimed as the Earth’s “commons”). Regimes appear to adjust the cast of characters around such “mythology” according to pragmatic calculations and perceptions of the world order at the time. Conspiracy theories seem to be cyclically applied to galvanize electoral support. During the Bolsonaro administration, there is a resurgence of the Cold War-era idea that a global and domestic Communist conspiracy (the “enemy”) is seeking to destroy Brazil, as well as the slogan that the “Amazon is ours” (the “battleground”), both of which had been used to legitimize Brazil’s military takeover (1964—85). In the midst of this, Brazil has a complex relationship with former colonial powers such as France, as well as the US. My paper will compare the mythologies under the Bolsonaro regime to those under Getúlio Vargas and the military dictatorship in 20th-century Brazil, pondering to what extent they have been recycled.

By most accounts, Bolsonaro’s government represents a rupture from the Brazil of the Worker’s Party in terms of economic policy. Following in the footsteps of Michel Temer’s Constitutional Amendment (PEC) that drastically reduced government spending, Bolsonaro and his minister of economy Paulo Guedes have embarked on projects of deregulation, privatization, and the hollowing out of the state. However, certain populist initiatives continue. Not only has the social welfare program of Bolsa Família prevailed even after Bolsonaro campaigned so hard against it, but the Covid-19 pandemic has encouraged the government to embrace Auxílio Emergencial (Emergency Aid), enacting a kind of universal basic income for much of 2020. Furthermore, Bolsonaro continues to try to define himself as a protector of consumers against banks and elites with new threats of taxation and interference in Petrobras.

This paper examines the economic policy of the Bolsonaro administration during its first two and a half years both in macroeconomic terms and in conjunction with Bolsonaro’s political search for his base. If anti-corruption and tough-on-crime discourse was enough to get him into office, the presidency is another story. Surely austerity and the influence of the “Chicago boys” remain prevalent in terms of broader policy, but Bolsonaro’s increasingly strong working-class support has led him to embrace elements of his populist precedents, in discourse if not always in fact. Rather than view this as pure manipulation, I argue that it sheds light on the administration’s coming to terms with the interests of its base and corresponding strategies to hold onto power.

Ayelén Branca (Córdoba)

How can the convulsed social context of Latin America be explained? The social outbreaks at the beginning of the 21st century that grow and decrease until today, such as the “Chile despertó” and the massive indigenous resistance movements in Bolivia, Ecuador, Mexico and Colombia? What about the so-called “democratic transition”? There are many questions that arise around the social and political context of our region and it is not easy to characterize a situation in constant movement. Without the intention of giving finished answers, we seek to draw a horizon of understanding that integrates multiple dimensions of analysis and delves a little beyond the short history of neoliberal economic policies and their repressive institutions. Faced with the fragmentation of disciplinary perspectives and the splitting of the dimensions of analysis, we assume the need to understand social dynamics from a perspective that integrates the economic, political and cultural frameworks, as well as the local and global dynamics that constitute social formations. We recover, then, the contributions of the Marxist theories of dependency in order to analyze the consequences of an exclusive reproduction pattern, marked by super-exploitation and the interruption of the capital cycle, which is transformed throughout the history of Nuestra América. The history of a dependent capitalism that is increasingly positioned as a weak link in the capitalist system.

Quincy Stemmler (Lima)

The academic debate on the so-called “resource curse“ frequently presents social conflicts as a direct consequence of a resource-based development model. By contrast critics of the resource curse thesis argue that the resource abundance itself does not cause the problems but rather the institutional framework in which it is embedded. With this assumption as a starting point, I want to show how different institutional settings in structurally similar countries cause different types of conflicts using the examples of mining policies in Peru and in Colombia.

Extractive activities are often closely related to eruptions of violence, especially in the Andean region. Peru is one of the states with the largest amount of social conflicts caused by extractive industries, while in neighboring Colombia far less violent confrontations occur in the context of those projects. However in the latter case conflictivity exists, too, but takes on a different form: There, systematic violence (displacement, intimidation, killings) against environmental activist and indigenous groups is far more common than in the Peruvian case.

To explain these different outcomes I want to analyze the political, economic and environmental institutions that shape the mining sectors in the two countries, showing how they produce conflictivities (conflictividades).

Inés Durán Matute (Puebla)

Extractivism is a crucial element of global capitalism that entails not only the control over ‘resources’ but also of flows; therefore, in this presentation, I examine the forms in which capital and people are fixed and mobilized. Furthermore, I argue that development projects are ‘spatial solutions’ to the crises of capital managed by States to globally guarantee the reproduction and organization of capitalist social relations. My point of departure is the attempt to implement a series of megaprojects in ‘indigenous territories’ in Mexico. To do so, the ‘progressive’ Mexican government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (2018-2024) has engaged in a dispute over ‘indigeneity’, that has meant a dispute over spaces, meanings, peoples and even over life to communities that experience dispossession, violence, pollution and disease as the effects of ‘development’. In this sense, I reflect on how ‘development’ and racism work together as part of the plans of capitalism and the techniques of dispossession.

Still, as there are sectors that confront the geographies of capitalism, I present how the Congreso Nacional Indígena (CNI) – Concejo Indígena de Gobierno (CIG) – Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN) have committed and are promoting a ‘struggle for life’ that challenge this operation. Since 2017, they have been creating and weaving spaces of resistance globally to stop the expansion of spaces of capital and find ways to care for life and dignity collectively. I wonder how are they envisioning alternative futures and engaging in creating them? What kind of organization are they promoting? What are the potential and limits of their proposal?

Panel 2: Disruptions of Latin American democracies

Chair: Daniel S. León (Greifswald, Leipzig). June 18th, 14:00 – 16:00 CEST

Alejandro Velasco (New York)

Latin American cities are highly segregated spatially, in turn reflecting other forms of segregation – economic, social, political. But how did the region’s so-called “left turn” affect this dynamic? At the start of the 21st century, the rise of left-wing governments upholding banners of social justice, political participation, and redistribution of wealth in favor of social sectors long sidelined generated great expectations of change across the region. Yet those expectations largely failed to materialize. At times, even, the same spatial segregation that served as launching pad for progressive movements to reach power became the foundation for remaining in power, insofar as political polarization and urban geography grew tightly linked. And while the literature on urban Latin America has examined the relationship between politics and space, the particular impact of political polarization on urban space and vice versa has received scant attention. In this sense, Caracas is an exemplary case. On one hand, it is marked by longstanding spatial segregation, considerably deepened in the 1990s era of neoliberal reforms. On the other hand, the 1998 election of Hugo Chávez as President, promising a popular revolution, ushered in intense political polarization that closely followed preexisting patterns of spatial segregation, marked by race and class differences. This paper traces how the development and deepening of this segregation in the 1990s created the conditions for the emergence under Chavez of a distinct and underexamined phenomenon – not segregated cities, but parallel cities – and its impact on shaping the trajectory of Venezuelan politics and society in the Chávez era. 

Rafael Freitas (Leipzig)

The words in the title of this presentation were pronounced by the current president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, while referring to, and at the same time minimizing, the problem of the Covid-19 pandemic. For Bolsonaro, the pandemic so far has not been and is not a priority. His government argues that maintaining economic activity should be prioritized. Likewise, burning in the Amazon and the Pantanal – the largest floodplain forest in the world – is not a problem for the Bolsonaro government. Its Minister of the Environment – Ricardo Salles – defended even the absurd idea that the forest could be preserved with extensive cattle breeding and with large-scale soy plantation, whose main buyers, by the way, are China and the Europe. Within the political-national sphere, the economic and social forces that defend this type of (necro) politics and bestial capitalism are known as ‘bullet, bull and Bible benches’. They constitute ultra-conservative sectors of Brazilian society linked to the interests of financial capitalism, the indiscriminate release of arms, agribusiness and neo-Pentecostal evangelical religious. To complete the picture of Brazilian necropolitics – understood here as death policies not only for certain sectors of the population but also for the biosphere – the power of the militias grows in the country’s social and political scenario. This reflection will aim to demonstrate these intrinsic and dangerous relationships between populism, religion and necropolitics in today’s Brazil.

Thomas Ploetze (Leipzig)

The paper intends to uncover the narratives and images surrounding Maras and Pandillas in Central America since the 1990s. Youth gangs and Maras are ever-present phenomena in Central American daily life as well as security discussion. They are considered to be one of the leading causes for the very high homicide rates in the region with transnational linkages to cartels and trafficking organizations. While this paper does not challenge the actual violence of the Pandillas, it turns to narratives and images which lay underneath of the meanwhile infamous interpretations of youth gangs. The paper presumes that the prevailing portrayal of Maras as a transnational “monster,” as organized crime or as “terrorists” are primarily the result of a specific narrative (and its images). This narrative did not just recently become dominant but, so the argument of the paper, the creation of the Mara as a “monster” began already at the beginning of the 2000s.

The paper reconstructs the narrative and images of Maras /Pandillas in Central America with two innovations. First, the paper conducts a discourse analysis which includes a regional as well as national perspective. While almost all discourse studies about Maras so far have focused on specific Central American countries, this paper analyses equally the regional and national security discussion(s). Second, the paper embeds the reconstruction from a broader perspective by retracing the change and stability of narratives and images in the security discussion since the 1990s. 

Panel 3: Digital media, affects and moments of disruptions in Latin America and Europe – a comparison

Chair: Karen Silva Torres (Leipzig). June 18th, 16:15 – 18:15 CEST

Antonio Romero (México D.F., Berlin)

The research project analyses the affective dynamics and media processes through which the phenomenon of Central American migrant caravans marching to the U.S. was discussed and circulated on legacy media and Twitter as a social network site within Central America and North America. The previous event mainly during late 2018, when the migrant caravans reached vast media relevance, in a convulsed period when migration dynamics and politics were changing drastically in the region with long-lasting effects. The research project is based on theoretical approaches like media practice, which analyses daily routines of communication for the emergence of media-relevant events, and on affective publics, which concentrates on the relational constitution of publics through articulations of emotion, in moments of confrontation or solidarity and collective action. An essential purpose of the project is to investigate the doing and restructuring of publics in networked interactions, on a worldwide relevant topic like migration and its relation to media.

Ana Makhashvili and Dr. Débora Medeiros (Berlin)

Over the past few years, legacy media in Germany have been facing increasing challenges from the country’s far right. Among cries of “lying press” and accusations of left-wing bias in the news, far-right actors attempt to discredit legacy media’s reporting practices (Krämer, 2018). As similar contexts in other countries show, affective publics (Papacharissi, 2015) are key in this process as they emerge around shared emotions such as anger directed at perceived elites, including the press (Wahl-Jorgensen, 2017). Social media platforms lay grounds for such contestation by providing the space and the technological means for publics to make “affective claims to agency” (Papacharissi, 2015, p. 119).

Combining the theoretical perspectives of new institutionalism (Kaplan, 2006) and affective publics, this study discusses how publics on social media challenge journalistic authority in (anti-)migration discourses. Our study centers on an empirical analysis of Twitter discourse during the far-right protests in the German city of Chemnitz in 2018. The protests broke out as male migrants were suspected in the stabbing of a Cuban-German man. We applied a mixed-method design to a sample of ten thousand Tweets featuring #Chemnitz in the first week following the incident. Through social network analysis (Borgatti et al., 2009) we describe the networked and affective structure of the sample and identify central actors and communities. We then zoom into the competing communities, and analyze how they invoke emotions to challenge legacy media using textual analysis as “reading for affect” (Berg et al., 2019). 

The study enriches the scholarship on the “affective turn” (Clough & Halley, 2007) in communication studies by foregrounding the challenges that journalism faces as publics become more complex than previous models indicate.

Karen Silva Torres (Leipzig)

October 2019. Thousands of people protested in Ecuador after the government decided to implement an International Monetary Fund-backed austerity package, eliminating fuel subsidies. The most prominent organization participating in the protests was the Indigenous Movement, which gathered at a cultural center, where indigenous activists retained 10 police officers and around 30 journalists covering the demonstrations. Protests leaders asked police officers and journalists to parade in front of the crowd and to confirm that they were safe and sound. Some journalists addressed the protesters asking to leave the center, while others expressed support to their demands. This highly emotional moment was streamed via Facebook Live and other social media.

Relying on theory of media practices and using as background participant observation conducted in Ecuador, this presentation explores the intersection of affectivity, journalism, social media, and activism. It analyses the affective publics (Papacharissi 2015) formed around the demonstrations of October 2019 in Ecuador and focuses on the event at the cultural center as a production moment of “mediated anger” (Wahl-Jorgensen 2019).  To understand how journalists turned into objects of anger or “affect generators” (Reckwitz 2017), the paper reconstructs journalists’ approach to the protest, the criticism raised on social media about their coverage, and the interactions between reporters and activists.

Max Stabile (Brasilia)

This research aims to explore what role Google’s search engine played in the 2020 Brazilian elections. Since 2015, Brazilian politics has followed the growth of extreme right movements accompanied by digital mobilizations, strong criticism of the traditional media and a discussion about the increase in the dissemination of fake news. We discuss the role of Google as the main mediator of information in the 2020 elections – to choose majors and councilors -, which happened in 5569 counties with strong economic and informational inequalities. Our main hypothesis sustains that there possibly was interference of Google in the search results made in its search engine throughout this electoral process. This hypothesis is tested with a natural experiment made by captures of Search Engine Results Page (SERP) between August 28 and November 14, 2020, totalizing over 591,000 searches. In addition to testing the main hypothesis, we also make an exploratory analysis about the relationship of traditional media, social media networks and candidates’ campaign in the results conveyed by Google. Preliminary results point to the high concentration of mainstream media in the top search positions and suggest that there may in fact be some privileged targets of these vehicles by the search engine.

Panel 4: The Colombian Peace Process and Social Inequality

Chair: Stefan Peters (Giessen) Discussant: Solveig Richter (Leipzig) June 18th, 16:15 – 18:15 CEST

Rosario Figari Layús (Giessen)

In recent years, especially since the signing of the peace agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC guerrillas, human rights and environmental activists in many regions of Colombia have been facing increasing attacks and hostilities by state and non-state actors in many regions of Colombia. In this context, the Colombian government has implemented a series of security measures and programs to address this increasing violence and provide protection to social leaders at risk. Thus, this paper analyzes the conceptual framework of “protection” and “security” underlying these governmental initiatives, as well as the implementation procedures, that have proven to have serious difficulties and failures in providing effective protection to threaten civil society actors. As this presentation will show, the Colombian protection policy for human rights activists and social leaders does not seem to have an effective long term, comprehensive and participative approach. In order to discuss these points, this paper will address the following questions: What are the main characteristics and dilemmas of the Colombian state protection policy?  How do these protections policies impact on the security of social leaders and civil society actors?  What are the main challenges to reduce effectively reduce violence against social leaders in Colombia?

Laura Camila Barrios Sabogal (Bogotá)

Women are usually represented in the literature as victims without considering the different roles that they play during conflicts. This depiction refuses to recognize their agency, particularly for female fighters. In the Colombian case, I found that the analysis of former female FARC-EP combatants’ agency is complex and implies many tensions between (1) victimization and violence perpetration, (2) the reasons for joining the guerrilla, (3) the roles they played within it, and (4) their individual and collective identity. These tensions are still present in their political, economic and social reincorporation process. However, agency’s recognition is crucial for a sustainable reincorporation of these women into the Colombian society.

Anika Oettler (Marburg)

The 2016 peace agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC-EP marks an important procedural and substantial milestone on the road to inclusive peace. However,  Colombia´s gendered agenda for peace was highly controversial, and the debate on “gender ideology” and the failed referendum led to readjustments within traditional gender norms, without reducing the broad range of gender-related measures. I will present a systematic qualitative assessment of gender-related measures that shows the predominance of rather vague measures related to the roots of violent conflict. Accordingly, there is a slow pace of implementation in these fields. Has the portfolio of gender-related measures become too complex?

Juliana González Villamizar (Bogotá) and Angela Santamaría (Bogotá)

Based on ongoing intersectional research on the clarification work carried out by the Colombian Truth Commission (CEV) and participatory research conducted with Arhuaco Indigenous women of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta to prepare a report to the CEV, the presentation will review and discuss the methodological gaps that exist between Arhuaco women’s approaches to memory and the Truth Commission’s methodological framework, as well as the challenges the CEV faces to make visible Indigenous women’s experiences and agencies in the armed conflict given intra-community and intra-institutional political dynamics in tension. 

Juliette Vargas (Bogotá, Göttingen)

The Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) faces multiple challenges in ensuring meaningful participation for victims. Amongst the most significant is the implementation of suitable mechanisms of collective participation while considering gender, ethnic, and territorial approaches, amongst others. This presentation considers possible lessons that may be drawn from other transitional experiences and warns that channelling collective victim participation through legal representatives risks rendering participation meaningless when certain conditions prevail. These include victim homogenisation, no consideration of differential features of victimisation, lack of communication between victims and representatives, and failure to grant a minimum agency level to victims in selecting their representatives and/or group membership.

Roundtable: Disrupciones de las culturas policiales

Moderation: Agustina Carrizo de Reinmann (Leipzig) June 18th, 18:30 – 20:00 CEST

Diego Galeano (Rio de Janeiro)

In the first months of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben published a brief reflection on the dangers of establishing a police state under the sign of a sanitary emergency. The polemic raised by the text updates and revisits a topic with deep historical roots: the social perception of epidemics and pandemics as a laboratory to observe police practices. Based on a review of public debates in three critical public health episodes in the history of Buenos Aires (the yellow fever epidemic of 1871, the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, and the coronavirus of 2020), this presentation seeks to discuss the tensions involved in policing in exceptional situations.

Mariana Sirimaco (Buenos Aires)

The isolation ruled in Argentina at the beginning of 2020 placed the national security forces in a fundamental role. The equation between police, pandemic, and isolation articulated two different arguments: one linking police and caring, the other relating police and violence. This presentation analyzes that discussion by taking into account two inseparable issues: which are the police roles and practices encouraged by the current scenario? Which are the lessons it left concerning its potential reiteration? The presentation explores this case to contribute to a broader discussion: how do the local and regional data contribute to understanding Latin American police’ role and functioning and their relation to the larger political scenario?

Stiven Tremaria (Osnabrück)

The Venezuelan police has experienced substantive changes along with the transformations of the political regime throughout the 22 years of the Bolivarian Revolution (1999–today). In 2006, the year that coincided with Chavismo’s electoral peak, the Venezuelan government launched a far-reaching police reform through a highly participatory exercise of policymaking formulation. This reform aimed to refund a dysfunctional institution characterized by misconduct by officers and to align the Venezuelan police with the “best international practices” according to the democratic policing model: a demilitarized police force, oriented towards a preventive function, internally and externally accountable, close to the citizenry, and respectful of human rights.

However, this ideal model only remained on paper in the text of the 2008 police laws, as the implementation of such a reform was engulfed by the progressive and incremental process of democratic backsliding and consolidation of authoritarianism during the third Chávez administration (2007–2013) and the presidency of Nicolás Maduro (2013–today). Twelve years after the entry into force of the new police laws, the Venezuelan police is today characterized by being a tool of authoritarian repression and a highly politicized and militarized institution. Besides, policing has come to be exercised de facto by different armed state and non-state actors of a criminal nature, which maintain a clientelistic relationship with the Venezuelan government.

Like other authoritarian regimes from different parts of the world, the Maduro government has deliberately instrumentalized the COVID-19 pandemic to consolidate his autocratic rule. The pandemic has also brought about the genesis of the so-called civil-military-police union, an alliance between the government, military, police, and regime supporters for the “fight against the pandemic” and the “defense of the revolution against alleged attempts of political destabilization.”

This presentation will examine the attempts to restructure the Venezuelan police and the current process of factual reversal of such a reform in a context signed by the gradual autocratization of the Venezuelan political regime. Likewise, emphasis will be placed on analyzing how the COVID-19 pandemic has fostered the conditions for a deepening of this process.

Panel 5: Violence in Latin America in the context of social movements

Chair: Marisol Palma Behnke (Santiago). June 19th, 14:00 – 15:30 CEST

Igor Stipic (Regensburg)

The presentation will explore the narratives of political transitions that emerged through two high school countermovements in Bosnia and Chile since 2015. While putting student perceptions, the state, and its democracy to focus, I ask how these counternarratives relate to the official story propagated by the political elites during the post-1990s period? Understanding student politics as practices of worldmaking, I argue that these micro-histories of discontent challenge and disrupt official narratives of democratic transition in Southeast Europe (SEE) and South America (SA) in a sense that they point to the process of elitization of politics that occurred as a side effect of the political transition inside of which a switch to democracy was paired with sweeping neoliberal reforms. The study is completed through an online ethnography of the student movements and in-depth semi-structured interviews with protest participants. The presentation contributes to the broader literature of democratic transition in the sense that it provides a novel interpretation of the transitional phenomena by addressing it from the position of subaltern students that were never incorporated into the dominant post-transitional state project. In this sense, the study is relevant for a wider academic audience dealing with the problématique of democratic transitions, social movements, and subaltern politics. 

Hannah Katalin Grimmer (Wien)

The proposal investigates visual arts in the context of social movements as well as the relation to artistic forms of resistance against dictatorships. Artistic expressions in Chile are analyzed as the country can be considered paradigmatic of the Cono Sur due to its history since 1970, a decade of continuous protests, and as an illustration of the discontinuous way in which the past is dealt with. Since October 2019, the state’s rejection of social movements has become increasingly clear. The transition has not been completed, and a line of conflict runs through society. Artists are responding to this in a variety of ways. Two hypotheses are guiding: first, that coming to terms with the Chilean civil-military dictatorship has not been accomplished at all levels of society and that references to the art of resistance are ubiquitous in contemporary protests. On the other hand, those social movements are based on intergenerational solidarity. Graphic and performative art is particularly relevant to this analysis, but it is not limited to it. With a decidedly transdisciplinary perspective, an artistic contribution to Memory Studies will be made. Research questions will be the following: What artistic forms are currently characteristic of

the protests in Chile and of the feminist movements in the Cono Sur? What is the connection between the fields of ‘art’ and ‘social movement’? How are protests and resistance against dictatorships in the Cono Sur (artistically) remembered? Which art of resistance is reactivated today? How, where, and by which actors is it medialized? Who claims agency and visibility with it?

The press and the politics of emotions. Fear, rage, and hatred after the social outburst of October 18th in Chile.  

Carla Rivera (Santiago de Chile)

The presentation will analyze the discourses raised by the national press the first month after the social outbreak of October 18th, 2019, to problematize the impact they have on the constitution of politics. The argument will take as a starting point the imprint of media in the construction and management of a public sphere of emotions, i.e., the place where feelings and emotions converge with information and public debates. Thus, the presentation will show that news circulated in the newspapers El Mercurio and La Tercera tended to discredit the social movement by instrumentalizing fear, anger, and hatred. 

Svenja Bonnecke (Santiago)

After the last big wave of protests starting in October 2019, the call for police reform has become louder and louder in Chile. Earlier corruption scandals had already shaken the image of the militarized police (Carabineros de Chile). According to Kingdon’s theory, these events proved and continue to prove a “policy window of opportunity.” As a result, the desire for reform led to various proposals in the public debate last year. Difficulties are posed by the police’s neglect of human rights and their internal hierarchical structure. In this context, however, it is crucial to consider the militarized police as a political instrument and as an institution, which was ideally reinforced and gained power under dictator Pinochet. In addition to the criminal police (Policía de Investigaciones), a reform of the military police (Carabineros de Chile), founded in 1927, is therefore confronted with a charged political atmosphere, which is also affected by the 1980 constitution, its constitutional amendments in 2005 and the future constitution. The presentation will address the links and tensions between the current police institution, the constitution, and the reform proposals.

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