Here you’ll find the abstracts of forthcoming articles as well as a selection of published ones, both in English and in Spanish, some in Word and others in .PDF format. You can click on the links to access them.
Insurgencies don’t have a plan —they are the plan. Political performatives and vanishing mediators in 2011 (Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies 2012 download here, Debate Feminista 2012 descargar aquí). 2011 turned out to be an extraordinary year. The clustering of insurgencies around time and geography gave a political ring to the seasons: commentators spoke of the Arab Spring, the European Summer and the US Fall. TIME magazine even named “the protester” person of the year. Some faulted these revolts for their lack of plans and proposals, a criticism that misses the point by confusing the disruption of the given with the task of reconfiguring it. Insurgencies are not standard political practices or policy-making exercises but operators of difference. They are about saying “enough!” and refusing to go on as before. Insurgencies are the plan in three interconnected senses: they open up possibilities that may or may not prosper but nonetheless allow us to glimpse something other to come; they are political performatives —participants start to experience what they strive to become; and they function as vanishing mediators that put different worlds in contact with one another. I address these points in a discussion about the material remainder of the Arab Spring and the student mobilizations in Chile.
El reencantamiento de la política como espacio de participación ciudadana (Siglo XXI, 2011) [descargar artículo] Este escrito discute la participación, el sentido de pertenencia y el reencantamiento de la política. Tomo como eje la propuesta de un nuevo pacto de cohesión social que elaboró la CEPAL para responder a problemas relacionados con la pobreza, la exclusión y la discriminación. Primero esbozo un marco analítico para pensar a la cohesión y la pertenencia. Veo a éstas como experiencias singulares cuyo sentido se juega en la interfase entre procesos de gobierno y procesos de disenso o subjetivación que buscan reconfigurar lo dado. Luego examino cinco ideas que están presentes en el PCS. Estas son: la apuesta normativa por la solidaridad, el papel del conflicto y la exclusión, las dimensiones “supra-” y “trans-nacional” de la política, los actores de la gobernanza y el carácter fundante de los pactos. En tercer lugar discuto una manera de entender la pertenencia examinando, por un lado, el valor y sentido del prefijo “re-” que precede y modifica la idea del encantamiento de la política y, por el otro, el desencanto y los procesos de subjetivación que dicho desencanto puede generar. El cuarto y último paso consiste en elaborar un diagnóstico de la política actual. Consiste en establecer que la política latinoamericana está en un momento de inflexión en el que se abren oportunidades para la experimentación y la innovación en materia de participación. El poder aprovecharlas depende de nuestra disposición para aceptar el desafío de ser audaces y reconocer que el post-liberalismo es una idea-fuerza cuyo momento ha llegado. Las formas de participación, canalización de demandas y rendición de cuentas que aparecen en este escenario post-liberal apuntan a un empoderamiento social que suplementa el empoderamiento electoral que heredamos de la tradición liberal. En esto radica su capacidad potencial para reencantar la política, renovando y desplazando sus parámetros habituales.
Politics is hegemony is populism? (Constellations, 2010). Extended review article of Ernesto Laclau’s On Populist Reason. [download text] [bajar en español]
Disagreement without reconciliation: Democracy, equality and the public sphere (Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, 2009 download here, Debate Feminista 2012 descargar aquí). Nancy Fraser claims that the public sphere did not live up to the assumption of strict equality envisioned by Arendt and Habermas. She also believes that socioeconomic equality is a necessary condition for a truly democratic public realm. This is problematic not because equality is an unworthy goal but because it ties its pursuit to classical narratives of emancipation and hence to an ethos of reconciliation, at least implicitly. I argue instead that public space is structured around an ethos of polemicization and propose two criteria to frame its relation with equality. One is that the public scene comes into being through a polemic to stage claims. This staging, which involves an effort to verify equality, disturbs the given and reshapes the boundaries between public and private. The other is that equality is always a contested equality to come. By this I do not mean that it is a delayed presence, an equality that is not-yet-here, but rather that it never finds a final resting point: the question of equality opens up whenever there is an attempt to verify it.
On the political: Schmitt contra Schmitt (Telos 142, 2008). [download text] or [bajar en portugues] or [bajar en español] A standard observation in the literature is that Schmitt’s take on the political wavers between nostalgia for the strong state of the Westphalian era and a lucid depiction of the new statal and non-statal political scene. This wavering doesn’t close off more interesting possibilities that emerge by thinking with and against Schmitt, either navigating through his theory of the political without endorsing all the consequences he draws from it or taking his reflection in a direction he did not foresee or wish to go. I will look at some of the tensions –the nature of the link between war and politics, the status of enemies, the moral claim about the goodness of order– and use his distinction between politics and the political, perhaps his most original insight, to develop the theme of the double inscription of the political.
Arguments about the Left turn(s) in Latin America: a post-liberal politics? (Latin American Research Review, 2008) [download text] or [bajar versión en español]. I propose a conceptual framework to discuss the Left and Left turns in Latin American politics. I then argue that winning elections –the recurrent criterion for these turns– might generate tremendous enthusiasm but is also a restrictive benchmark. Other indicators I discuss here include the Left’s agenda-setting capacity, its redefinition of the political and ideological center and its incipient challenge to the liberal setting of politics as actors experiment with post-liberal arrangements.
Post-hegemony: politics outside the usual post-Marxist paradigm (Contemporary Politics, 2007) [download text] or [bajar versión en español]. I take the early work of Laclau and Mouffe as a starting point to raise a series of questions concerning post-Marxist and/or post-Gramscian accounts of politics. I argue that their take on hegemony oscillates between conceiving it as one form of politics amongst others and as the form of politics as such. They ultimately settle for the latter. This is problematic, if only because the absence of an outside shields the theory of hegemony from the test of its own contingency and prevents it from being falsified. My aim, though, is not to develop yet another critique of their work but to clear the field for post-hegemony. I use ‘hegemony’ in the specific sense that these authors give to the term and not to designate the dominant force in a contested political field. By preceding it with the prefix ‘post’ I acknowledge temporality as a conceptual shift rather than as a discontinuity between past and present: what comes after hegemony is ways of thinking and doing politics that do not conform to what the theory of hegemony prescribes. Yet what is at stake is not simply an outside, as electoral politics has been around for a long time and rarely cared about the mechanics of the hegemonic format. Post-hegemony instead names an outside that explicitly eludes hegemony, particularly viral politics and some aspects of the politics of the multitude like exodus or defection that I will examine here, but it need not be limited to these.
Althusser (book chapter in Palgrave Advances in Continental Political Thought, 2006) [download text]
Una gramática posmoderna para pensar lo social (Zona Abierta, 1986) [descargar en español]
La totalidad como archipiélago: el diagrama de puntos nodales (revista Question No. 25, 2010, reedición actualizada de un artículo originalmente publicado en 1991) [bajar en español] La lógica o pensamiento del fundamento ha dominado el pensamiento occidental. La asociamos con el modelo topográfico de la verdad de Platón y con la búsqueda de la certeza absoluta en Descartes. Presume que detrás de la diversidad empírica del mundo hay un orden subyacente y que ese orden es cognoscible y sirve para descifrar el significado de la diversidad de fenómenos. El cuestionamiento de esta tradición ha contribuido a crear el terreno discursivo del post-fundamento. El giro de una tradición a otra incide sobre cómo pensamos conceptos familiares como los de totalidad, sociedad y lo social que discuto aquí. Si, como señala Laclau, la tesis esencialista de la sociedad como un objeto unitario que funda sus procesos parciales es imposible, resulta igualmente sospechosa la idea de sociedad como puro juego de diferencias desprovisto de reglas. La “sociedad” es una construcción excéntrica que surge en la zona comprendida entre dos extremos lógicos que son a su vez inalcanzables, el del cierre absoluto y la dispersión total. Propongo dar cuenta de la excentricidad de las totalidades sociales conjugando los centros de fuerza de Nietzsche con los puntos nodales de Freud y Lacan. Ello me permitirá concebir la totalidad como un archipiélago de puntos nodales o centros de fuerza o, para ser más preciso, como el diagrama de ese archipiélago.
From globalism to globalization. The politics of resistance (New Political Science, 2004) [download text] or [bajar versión en español]. Here I address the third circuit of politics. My main assumption is that the ‘second great transformation’ proposed by global actors parallels the one advanced by those who resisted laissez-faire capitalism in the nineteenth century. Both dispute the unilateral imposition of a new planetary order and endeavor to modify the rhythm and direction of economic processes presented as either fact or fate. In doing so, they effectively place the question of the political institution of this order in the agenda. I look briefly at the familiar underside of globalism and then move on to develop a tentative typology of initiatives that set the tone for a politics of globalization. These include radical and viral direct action, the improvement of the terms of exchange between industrialized and developing countries, the expansion of the public sphere outside national borders through global networks, the accountability of multilateral organizations, and the advancement of democracy at a supranational level. Participants in these initiatives take politics beyond the liberal-democratic format of elections and partisan competition within the nation state. They exercise an informal supranational citizenship that reclaims —and at the same time reformulates— the banners of social justice, solidarity, and internationalism as part of the public agenda.
Populism as a spectre of democracy: A response to Canovan (Political Studies, 2004). [download text] or [bajar versión en español] The literature on populism used to depict the phenomenon as an alternative to the standard path from traditional to modern society, as a way to enfranchise the underclass, or as an anomaly vis-a-vis class politics and liberal institutions. More recently, the debate has shifted into something of a terra incognita due to the growing interest in the connection between populism and democratic politics. One of the more intriguing contributions to this debate is an article by Margaret Canovan, if only because it makes this unknown territory less confusing. Her argument draws from Michael Oakeshott’s claim that political modernity is characterised by the interplay of two distinct styles, the politics of faith and of scepticism. She renames them the redemptive and pragmatic faces of democracy, and suggests that populism arises in the gap between them. This establishes a relation of interiority between populism and democracy. The former will follow democracy like a shadow. At times, however, the theoretical status of the gap is somewhat uncertain, as it seems more appropriate for thinking politics –particularly radical politics– in general. One could specify the political valence of the shadow further to show the in-built undecidability between the democratic aspect of the phenomenon and its possible ominous tones.
Populism, or, politics on the edges of democracy (Contemporary Politics, 2004), [download text] or [descargar en español] Traditional approaches to the study of populism highlight the connection with modernization, the enfranchisement of the underdogs, and the role played by charismatic leaders. More recently, the literature has begun to discuss the connection between populism and democracy. This article takes on this relation by thinking populism as an internal periphery of democratic politics. It proceeds to develop this intuition by identifying three possible iterations of the populist phenomenon. The first one looks at populism as a mode of representation. The second possibility, populism as a symptom of democratic politics, ups the ante by looking at the tensions that push populism to the edges of democracy without necessarily stepping out. The third line of inquiry looks at the populist mobilization as a possible underside or nemesis of democracy.
The becoming-other of politics: A post-liberal archipelago (Contemporary Political Theory, 2003) [download text]. [The Spanish version (2005) won the 2006 award of the Spanish Political Science Association (AECPA) for Best Book Chapter [bajar versión en español].I Here I address the theme of post-liberalism by speaking of the becoming-other of politics and proposing an image of thought for this becoming-other. I claim that the discussion about the double inscription of the political is a familiar trope among progressive thinkers, whose discussions have focused primarily on the ontological presuppositions of the political at the expense of a theoretical reflection on politics. The article shifts the emphasis to the latter. It develops an image of thought of our political actuality that moves beyond the commonplace observation that politics exceeds electoral representation. Its underlying assumption is that modernity is characterised by a continual process of political territorialization and re-territorialization whereby the political frontier has experienced a series of displacements along a migratory arc that goes from the sovereign state to liberal party democracies. But it does not stop there, for as politics colonizes new domains and carves up novel places of enunciation, the cartography we inherited from democratic liberalism experiences a Copernican de-centering that throws us into a scenario best described as an archipelago of political domains. This announces the becoming-other of politics, the post-liberal setting of our political actuality.
Stirred and shaken. From ‘the art of the possible’ to emancipatory politics (Parallax, 2005) [download text] or [descargar en español]. This article explores the persistence of agitation —the stirring and shaking mentioned in the title— in emancipatory politics. It deconstructs the familiar notion that politics is the ‘art of the possible’, an observation made by Bismarck in the nineteenth century and taken as a rallying cry by political realists everywhere. The purpose of this is to destabilize the frontiers between the possible and the impossible, and between revolutionary and non-revolutionary politics. This will allow me to argue that to stir and to shake the given is not a hangover from the hot politics of times past but lives on as part of an internal periphery of institutional politics. Agitation functions as a symptom that prevents the closure of politics in a purely gentrified format or, alternatively, agitation in tandem with emancipatory politics brings out the eventness of events and reveals the working of the impossible, something that is easily lost in the more banal realist coding of politics as ‘the art of the possible’.
Del comercio libre al comercio justo (From free trade to fair trade, Sistema, Madrid, 2006) [bajar en español]. Fair trade initiatives were launched by groups of European activists seeking to modify the unequal exchange between the industrialized north and the developing south. The basic premise of the fair trade movement is that one can benefit producers by rooting out intermediaries and establishing direct links with consumers in the north. They are an innovative way of addressing social justice from below and outside the sphere of governments and multilateral agencies. They also seek to change patterns of consumption in developed countries. This article looks into the fair trade movement, particularly at the work of Fair Trade Labeling Organizations International (FLO, an umbrella organization for various fair trade initiatives). It discusses its achievements, the difficulties it faces, and the way all this is changing north-south relations as well as the ethics of consumers and businesses.
Ciudadania de geometria variable y empoderamiento social: una propuesta (Social Empowerment and a Citizenship of variable geometry, in F. Calderon (ed.), Ciudadania y desarrollo humano, Siglo XXI, 2007) [bajar en español]. Here I address some of the shortcomings of the liberal conception of citizenship with regard to equality and look at ways of strengthening social citizenship. I argue that the validation of civil, political or social rights is not simply the result of legal provisions but an effect of polemic, and that instead of a coexistence of three types of rights in a unified citizenship what we have is a variable geometry. Finally, I discuss Schmitter’s proposal to grant semi-public status to social organizations and provide them with public funding.
Trayectoria y potencial politico de la idea de sociedad civil (The development and political potential of the idea of civil society, Revista Mexicana de Sociologia, 2004) [bajar en español]. The article explores the intellectual trajectory of the concept of civil society and aims to specify its heuristic value in relation to politics. I show how the concept has been used by certain classical authors and then how it has reemerged in more recent discussions that regard the political activation of civil societyCS as a continuation of the democratic revolution. The article ends with the suggestion that the image of an archipelago of circuits can be used to extend politics beyond the territorial representation of the liberal imaginary.
Polemicization. The Contingency of the Commonplace (Benjamin Arditi & Jeremy Valentine), Edinburgh University Press & New York University Press, 1999. Download book, 3 MB
Politics on the Edges of Liberalism: Difference, Populism, Revolution, Emancipation, Edinburgh University Press, 2007. Download book, 1.5 MB
La política en los bordes del liberalismo, Gedisa, 2010, Download book
El reverso de la diferencia. Identidad y política (Benjamin Arditi, ed.), Nueva Sociedad, 2000. Download book, 6.2 MB
La sociedad a pesar del Estado. Movimientos sociales y recuperación democrática en el Paraguay (Benjamín Arditi y José Carlos Rodríguez, 1987). Download book, 2.2 MB
Adiós a Stroessner. La reconstrucción de la política en el Paraguay (1992). Download book 1.4 MB
Discutir el socialismo (1989). Download book 2 MB
El deseo de la libertad y la cuestión del otro (1989). Download book 2 MB
Conceptos: ensayos sobre teoría política, democracia y filosofía (1992). Download book 3 MB