Autonomy and the power of hope in Latin America
Amidst major political and economic transitions taking place across South America, a new book authored by Dr Ana Cecilia Dinerstein from our Department of Social & Policy Sciences, considers what factors really lie behind social protest and change across the continent.
The book, ‘The Politics of Autonomy in Latin America: The art of Organising hope’, published by Palgrave Macmillan, provides a critique of the concept and practice of autonomy by social movements – the practice of self-management, self-representation and self-determination - in post-colonial Latin America.
Drawing on recent examples from prominent social movements in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Mexico, it suggests that the current debate about the significance of autonomous movements for political transformation is at a stalemate. Definitions of autonomy fail to fully grasp the commitment of Latin American movements to create radically different visions of society, beyond capitalism, patriarchy or coloniality.
Instead, by highlighting the parallels between autonomy and Ernst Bloch’s 'principle of hope', Dr Dinerstein defines autonomy as ‘the art of organising hope’ – or, shaping a radically different reality that can be anticipated by a movement’s collective actions.
Commenting on the book she said: “The book is about the ways social movements organise and communicate alternative realities to those imposed by power, and how they dare to dream and construct a better world. My analysis does not stop with the political and institutional transformations led by new centre-left governments in the region. It rather emphasises the significant role of radical 'hope' movements in transforming institutional politics.
“Hope is an essential component of politics: no hope, no change. Yet neoliberal austerity, which we see everyday currently, is a policy governed by hopelessness. Hope is the antidote to austerity. However, hope is not just a ‘wish’ or the optimism in a better future. Hope is an attitude and a form of understanding the present reality as an open and unfinished process, full of unforeseen possibilities. Hope must be learned and educated. This is what politics is about in Latin America and elsewhere.”
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