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Poor People’s Politics: Peronist Survival Networks and the Legacy of Evita Americas South America Argentina Javier Auyero Duke University Press Books


24th May 2013 History Books 5 Comments

“At the level of most political science literature on urban poverty and clientelism, this work is genuinely pathbreaking. Combining the best of ‘thick description’ ethnography with a sense of more global processes at work in a society, Auyero uses the most up-to-date analytical frameworks to interrogate an object of study that has rarely—if ever—been so addressed. This is a book to be reckoned with over the next few years and beyond.”—Daniel James, author of Doña María’s Story: Life History, Memory, and Political Identity

“Other people write about patronage politics as a form of organization, as a scourge to eradicate, or as a necessary evil on the way to full democracy. Javier Auyero writes about it as a raucous, improvised, crucial way of surviving poverty and inequality. Reporting perceptive first-hand observations in playful, energetic prose, Auyero illuminates poor people’s politics in Argentina and elsewhere.”—Charles Tilly, Columbia University

Javier Auyero is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

“Political clientelism” is a term used to characterize the contemporary relationships between political elites and the poor in Latin America in which goods and services are traded for political favors. Javier Auyero critically deploys the notion in Poor People’s Politics to analyze the political practices of the Peronist Party among shantytown dwellers in contemporary Argentina.
Looking closely at the slum-dwellers’ informal problem-solving networks, which are necessary for material survival, and the different meanings of Peronism within these networks, Auyero presents the first ethnography of urban clientelism ever carried out in Argentina. Revealing a deep familiarity with the lives of the urban poor in Villa Paraíso, a stigmatized and destitute shantytown of Buenos Aires, Auyero demonstrates the ways in which local politicians present their vital favors to the poor and how the poor perceive and evaluate these favors. Having penetrated the networks, he describes how they are structured, what is traded, and the particular way in which women facilitate these transactions. Moreover, Auyero proposes that the act of granting favors or giving food in return for votes gives the politicians’ acts a performative and symbolic meaning that flavors the relation between problem-solver and problem-holder, while also creating quite different versions of contemporary Peronism. Along the way, Auyero is careful to situate the emergence and consolidation of clientelism in historic, cultural, and economic contexts.
Poor People’s Politics reexamines the relationship between politics and the destitute in Latin America, showing how deeply embedded politics are in the lives of those who do not mobilize in the usual sense of the word but who are far from passive. It will appeal to a wide range of students and scholars of Latin American studies, sociology, anthropology, political science, history, and cultural studies.

“At the level of most political science literature on urban poverty and clientelism, this work is genuinely pathbreaking. Combining the best of ‘thick description’ ethnography with a sense of more global processes at work in a society, Auyero uses the most up-to-date analytical frameworks to interrogate an object of study that has rarely—if ever—been so addressed. This is a book to be reckoned with over the next few years and beyond.”—Daniel James, author of Doña María’s Story: Life History, Memory, and Political Identity

“Other people write about patronage politics as a form of organization, as a scourge to eradicate, or as a necessary evil on the way to full democracy. Javier Auyero writes about it as a raucous, improvised, crucial way of surviving poverty and inequality. Reporting perceptive first-hand observations in playful, energetic prose, Auyero illuminates poor people’s politics in Argentina and elsewhere.”—Charles Tilly, Columbia University

Poor People’s Politics: Peronist Survival Networks and the Legacy of Evita

Argentina, 1516-1987: From Spanish Colonization to Alfonsín

David Rock is Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His Politics of Argentina, 1890-1930 won the 1976 Herbert E. Bolton Prize for Latin American history. He is author of Authoritarian Argentina (1993) and editor of Latin America in the Nineteen Forties (1994), both available from the University of California Press.

In this comprehensive history, updated to include the climactic events of the five years since the Falklands War, Professor Rock documents the early colonial history of Argentina, pointing to the colonial forms established during the Spanish conquest as the source for Argentina’s continued reliance on foreign commercial and investment partnerships. The collapse of Argentina’s close western European ties after World War II is thus seen as the underlying cause for her current economic and political crisis.

Argentina, 1516-1987: From Spanish Colonization to Alfonsín










  • 5 responses to "Poor People’s Politics: Peronist Survival Networks and the Legacy of Evita Americas South America Argentina Javier Auyero Duke University Press Books"

  • DTerry
    6:47 on May 24th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    Where should we shelve this book? Does it matter? Should it be in LAtin American Studies? Should it be in sociology? The people that auyero portraits with the skill of s craftman could not be Argentinean. They could be in every day New York at the kitchen soups, they could have lived in the old days of italian immigration. Rather that concentrating in names and places the aim of this book is to find the ways in which every day people make sense of their lifes while being in a situation of opression; to find the ways in which there could be resistance inside acts catalogues as domination and at the same time maintain the idea of domination intact. This book os a must for every person interested in Argentina, for every person interested in LAtin America, for every people ineterested in the sociological analysis of everyday life and political domination. Integrating theory and empiria, this book is a readable one, even though it doesn’t run away from theory. As a grad student and an adjunct teacher myself, I think it could be a great undergrad and grad textbook.

  • Simon Stringer
    9:54 on May 24th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    I found the book relatively easy to follow and well thought out. There is a good discussion of economic, political, and social problems and developments, helping the reader to fully understand the events of the day, providing an excellent introduction to Argentina’s history.

  • Marcus Ochoa
    0:45 on May 25th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    From 16th Century colonial foundations to the colapse of the vicious dictatorships of the 1980s and the election of Raoul Alfonsin, Rock’s history gives us a sweeping, clear view of Argentina’s past. His style is readable and vey well organized. He takes the country’s turbulent centuries in simple chronological order, introducing the reader to the leaders of politics, the economy, social classes, the military and, to some extent, the arts. Rock has a penchant for the economic details pulling the country up and down, supporting his conclusions with much specific data. I enjoyed his presentation of long-lasting Argentine themes, such as the conflicts between Buenos Aires and the interior and the rich and workers. The economic and social influence of other nations is traced with care, starting, of course, with Spain, but also including Brazil, England and the US.

    I read this in preparation for my first trip to Argentina, leaving a few days after I write this. I feel the book has given me a much deeper understanding of the society I am about to explore.

  • Mardi Gras
    13:57 on May 25th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    David Rock writes one of the most definitive accounts of Argentine history to date. His book dates from the Spanish colonization through the election of Alfonsin. He looks at the limited number of Spaniards that came to colonize Argentina and their effects on the buildup of Buenos Ares compared with the interior. There is only a little attention paid to the mission systems in the Chaco and other surrounding areas. (for more on the Chaco See The Chaco Mission Frontier by James Saeger). This book does provide an excellent overview of the countries history without going into too much depth. Economics is a major focus of the book as well as the politics of the peronist era. The Falklands conflict is one of the last major pieces covered and is done very well. This is a great book to get a bearing on Argentina’s history and then decide where you want to read more. Whether you are a beginner or an expert this is an essential book for South American history.

  • Meta Tallent
    4:19 on May 26th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    This is a truly outstanding work. Hardly anyone did the kind of fieldwork Auyero did, hardly anyone illuminates the way in which the poor in Argentina manage to solve their everyday survival problems and, in the process, become subordinated in a powerful domination network. I would recommend this book not only to those interested in Latin American politics but also to those who want to know what a theoretically-inspired ethnography looks like.

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