Latin American Program in the News: Arnson ’76 Edits Book On Postwar Democratization in Latin America

Wesleyan University

Mar 04, 2013
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Cynthia Arnson ’76 is the editor of the book, In The Wake of War: Democratization and Internal Armed Conflict, published by Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Stanford University Press in 2012. The book focuses on the relationship of internal armed conflict to postwar democratization in Latin America, centering on Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru.

In those countries, Arnson writes, the dominant aspect of political life during and after the end of the Cold War was insurgency or counterinsurgency war, a product of political exclusion and reinforced by patterns of socio-economic marginalization. Through its case studies, the book looks at the differences between states in creating and resolving armed conflict, connected to the particular variances in duration, geographic reach, ethnicity, Cold War influence and involvement with the international community.

Introducing the book, Arnson comments that “human beings, not structures or institutions, make choices that have an impact on whether politics evolves in a democratic direction.” With a particular emphasis on how individual actors impact the state’s success in addressing chronic underlying problems, enacting reforms, and promoting reconciliation, the book reveals how the social, economic, and cultural conditions of countries cause uneven patterns of democratization.

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