fbpx Latin American Contemporary Political Economy | Harvard Kennedy School

Sebastian Etchemendy

Robert F. Kennedy Visiting Professor of Latin American Studies


Since the last quarter of the XXth century Latin America has lived under the shadow of two parallel, sweeping (and often contradictory) processes: democratization and economic liberalization. These massive shifts have posed enormous challenges to established political actors such as electoral and patronage-based parties, as well as to economic actors such as domestic business and the labor movement. In this context, traditional stakeholders (protected industrial business, populist parties and mainstream unions) often ceased to wield their old hegemony. At the same time, finance, natural resources-based business, indigenous and other social movements, and the newly organized informal working classes, emerged as new key political players in many countries. The course explores these epochal transformations through the lens of comparative political economy, the i.e. the systematic study of the political and social basis of general government socio-economic strategies, with special attention to the role played by business and popular actors in the policy sphere. Sometimes we will look at some classical political economy debates and authors that exceed the region (in areas such welfare state, regime change, neo-corporatism and varieties of capitalism, for example) but our empirical analysis will be centered on Latin America.