Calderon, Fernando, and Manuel Castells. The New Latin America.

AuthorRausch, Jane M.

Calderon, Fernando, and Manuel Castells. The New Latin America. Translated by Ramsey McGlazer. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2020.

During the first two decades of the twenty-first century, Latin America experienced a profound transformation as it was fully incorporated into the global economy, even while other regions and populations devalued by the logic of capitalism had been excluded. Technological modernization has gone hand in hand with the reshaping of old identities and the emergence of new ones. In twelve concise, insightful chapters, two leading scholars of Latin America--Fernando Calderon, director of research at the National University of San Martin, Argentina, and Manuel Castells, professor at the University of Southern California--apply their considerable expertise to explore various aspects of this transformation. Examining the problems created by the replacement of a neoliberal model by one of neo-developmentalism (a phenomenon that has occurred throughout the region), they conclude that although political corruption and the criminal economy have increasingly penetrated state institutions, new social movements made up of women, youth, indigenous people, workers, and peasants challenge these conditions and open avenues of hope.

The great strength of this volume, originally published in Spanish in 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, is that Calderon and Castells survey the impact of globalization not just on selected countries but on the region as a whole. The authors argue that despite enormous efforts and equally great sacrifices, none of the nations have been unable to resolve crucial questions related to democracy, such as the persistence of corrupt, clientelist, and bureaucratic practices in the state and society; the chronic lack of justice and liberty, especially for the dispossessed; and the emergence of conservative, ultranationalist movements with broad social support in the region. In short, Calderon and Castells have produced an essential book that will be enlightening to professors, students, and the general public alike who struggle to understand the "new" Latin America.

While all chapters provide useful data, chapter 5, "A Network Society: Individualization, Techno-Sociability, and the Culture of Diaspora," and chapter 7, "The Crisis of the Catholic Church and the New Religiosity," are especially informative on subjects rarely discussed. In chapter 5 the authors show how expanding access to television networks...

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