The Politics of Transparency in Neoliberal Paraguay
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: Duke University Press
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I’ve accrued many debts writing this book, some of which I may someday have the opportunity to repay in kind, most of which are part of complex and ongoing relationships. Some have been dropped in the fog, and still others left hanging under circumstances that I wish were otherwise. It’s impossible to conceive of doing research like this without ...
Note on Names
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The ethical rule of thumb on ethnographic naming practices is to give pseudonyms to anyone who is not a public figure. The practice requires differentiating between names that are easily substituted and therefore irrelevant to the analysis, names that are already “public” and therefore either impossible to conceal or integral to the analysis, and names that are ...
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At the beginning of the twenty-first century, a peculiar promise held sway in international development circles. Its central premise was that modern bureaucracies, managing transparent information, were the key to promoting equality, freedom, and prosperity around the world. This model of development emerged at the end of the Cold War ...
1. The Transition to Democracy
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When I first visited Paraguay in 1998 and for ten years thereafter, the word democracy was everywhere and always laden with complicated negative feelings. At the very least, Paraguay was still in a “transition to democracy” which had no clear end in sight. Since 1989, when the Colorado Party, which ...
2. Ill-Gotten Land
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... The forum was called “Campesinos y tierra malhabida,”1 which roughly translates as “peasants and ill-gotten land.” The forum was one of the few gatherings to which campesinos were invited by a consortium of new democratic NGOS and government sponsors to give their own narrative accounts of the dictatorship. Highly mediated though it was, the invitation was quite unusual, ...
3. Precarious Lots
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Joel Jara was the first person I met in rural Paraguay who really challenged my understanding of the word privatization. We were sitting out on his parents’ front patio, passing around a terere gourd with his cousin, talking about the upcoming cotton harvest. Drought had seriously damaged everyone’s crops that year, and it was unlikely they would ...
4. Duplicitous Documents
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For campesinos, land titles are material objects produced through labor and struggle, a view of documents that is fundamental to the way that they understand their relation to the state. This is a straightforward enough argument, which helps explain how campesinos organize their legal incursions on land. Privatization, from this perspective, is a ...
5. Populist Transparency
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... The director was a well-known sociologist, and in the 1980s, she had been a vocal opponent of the Stroessner regime. She had even done an important study in the area where I now lived, and had met Jorge as a young leader. Campesinos spoke flatteringly of her as one of the few academics they’d met who ...
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A book about open-ended documents can hardly be tied up at the end with something so pat as a conclusion. Moreover, to suddenly rest my case on a stable ending would also be to jump the political ship onto which I was invited after the shootings in Tekojoja. After all, ethnography as a form of stabilizing representation played a central role in ...
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Page Count: 320
Illustrations: 13 illustrations
Publication Year: 2011