Synopses & Reviews
"A sophisticated analysis of the push to recognize indigenous rights in Bolivia and Colombia . . . Placing her analysis in a broad comparative framework, Van Cott makes clear that these issues resonate profoundly wherever the traditional model of a culturally homogenous nation-state is under challenge."
Constitutional reform has been one of the most significant aspects of democratization in late twentieth-century Latin America. In The Friendly Liquidation of the Past -- one of the first texts to examine this issue comprehensively -- Van Cott focuses on the efforts of Bolivia and Colombia to incorporate ethnic rights into their fragile democracies.
On the basis of interviews with more than 100 participants in the reforms, Van Cott demonstrates how goals promoted by social movements -- recognizing ethnic diversity, expanding political participation and improving representation, and creating spheres of cultural and territorial autonomy -- were placed on the constitutional reform agenda in the 1990s. The highly symbolic act of constitution making elevated a public struggle for rights to the level of a discussion on the meaning of democracy and the nature of the state. The analysis follows each reform through five years of implementation to assess the early results of what Van Cott suggests is an emerging regional model of multicultural constitutionalism.
The Friendly Liquidation of the Past fills an important gap in the study of ethnic politics and constitutional reform in the Andes, linking the literature on institutions and political reform to work in political theory on participatory democracy and multiculturalism.
Based on interviews with more than 100 participants, Van Cott demonstrates how social issues were placed on the constitutional reform agenda and transformed into the nation’s highest law. She follows each reform for five years to assess early results of what she calls an emerging model of multicultural constitutionalism.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 305-334) and index.