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Swinging back? Winds of change after a decade of the Latin American Left


Swinging back? Winds of change after a decade of the Latin American Left”


Speakers Abstract:

The rise of the Latin American Left (or the 'Pink Tide') received – and continues to receive –significant scholarly attention. However, a decade later, and in spite of the latest wave of electoral success in Brazil, Bolivia, and Uruguay, the optimism and radicalism associated with this "new" direction in Latin American politics appears to be subsiding. Some of the parties that embodied this change have now been in power for over a decade, and the vitality of their projects is waning. Others have embraced a more pragmatic and rather (neo)liberal pathway, making a marked distinction with more radical projects. Some charismatic figures are gone, and their successors seem to moving to the political centre, challenged not only by traditional opposition groups but also by elements of their (previously) supporting constituencies. Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Venezuela have recently experienced social protests by middle-class and labour sectors, discontent with issues of deficient social spending, corruption, and/or rising prices. For example, Venezuela’s Bolivarian experiment has failed to expand and its government is locked between a faltering economy and growing political violence. The relationship of these national projects with broader trends in the global economy has also presented a number of challenges. As the financial crisis in Europe and the US subsides, Latin American neo-developmentalist models are relaxing or being forced to change: Argentina hopes to return to international financial markets, Brazilian industry calls for expansion beyond the region, and even Cuba is gradually opening its economy to attract foreign investment. Other countries such as Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Peru have rejected the leftist path and directly embraced market-led initiatives that contest the paralysis of MERCOSUR and revive ideas of free trade agreements with the US and the Asia-Pacific region.  

The conference aims to bring scholars from different fields to discuss and analyse the causes, expressions, trends, and implications of this ongoing and turbulent transition. Ultimately, the guiding question behind the event is twofold: To which extent is the Latin American leftist decade over? And if so, where to next?



Chair: Christopher Wylde (RAIUL)

The ‘left turn’ as the reactivation of democracy

Juan Pablo Ferrero (University of Bath)

Neo-Liberalism, Decentralisation and Pushback

Mike Keating (RAIUL)

‘New’ Millennium, ‘New’ Regionalism and ‘New’ Leftist Governments: What is ‘New’? 

Taeheok Lee (University of York)

The Responsible State: An analysis of post-neoliberal power networks in Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela

John Brown (Irish Research Council Scholar, NUIM John and Pat Hume Scholar, PhD Candidate, Sociology Department, Maynooth University)

1130-1200: Coffee Break


Chair: TBC

The Shifting Politics of Poverty Reduction in Central America: The case of Nicaragua

Sarah Hunt (University Manchester)

Brazil’s Renewed Industrial Policy and Globalization Strategy

Eliza Massi (SOAS-University of London, UK) and Jewellord Nem Singh (University of Sheffield, UK)

1300-1400: Lunch

1400-1500: KEYNOTE: Jean Grugel and Pia Riggirozzi


Chair: Alejandro Peña (University of York)

The Right in Latin America: The Struggle to Reclaim the State

Barry Cannon (Maynooth University, Ireland)

The Overthrow of Fernando Lugo: Re-establishing the Status Quo in Paraguay

Arturo Ezquerro-Cañete, PhD Candidate, International Development Studies, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

New dynamics in social mobilization and discontent under the Morales government in Bolivia

Anaïd Flesken & Annegret Mähler, (GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Hamburg)

Responding to the Street: the Dynamics of Government Responses to Mass Protests in Democracies

Alejandro Peña (University of York) & Thomas Davies (City University London)

1630-1700: Coffee Break


Chair: TBC

Workers' self-management in Latin America and Europe: A barometer of post-neoliberal models?

Dr. Daniel Ozarow (Middlesex University, London) 

The ‘Pink Tide’ reaching European shores? Podemos as a post-neoliberal party

Alejandro Timon-Terren (RAIUL)

1800-1900: KEYNOTE: Francisco Panizza: Decada ganada, decada perdida? Ten years of commodity boom and left governments.

The convenors can be contacted at: and




Selected papers may be invited for inclusion in a proposed edited collection to be published as part of the ILAS book series, depending on the quality of the material and the interest of the participants.

There will be a number of small grants available to cover travel and accommodation costs, but we will try to prioritise graduate students in this regard. Registration fees are £30 for a standard attendant, and £20 for students.


To register, please go to


27 March 2015, 10:00 - 19:30

Event Type:

Conference / Symposium


The Chancellor's Hall (Senate House, first floor)

Venue Details:

Senate House
Malet Street
London WC1E 7HU 

Download a map of the central precinct with directions for getting to the University of London Senate House.