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Book Reviews immigration, Latino and Latin American Studies, as well as to policy makers , and, as Gill hopes, in general to those living in North Carolina. M. Cristina Alcalde Department of Gender and Women’s Studies University of Kentucky INDELIBLE INEQUALITIES IN LATIN AMERICA: INSIGHTS FROM HISTORY, POLITICS, AND CULTURE. By Paul Gootenberg and Luis Reygadas (eds.). Durham: Duke University Press, 2010, 248 pp., $22.95. The life of Latin Americans is strongly conditioned by their class, gender , ethnicity and birthplace. Someone that is born poor–or rich–is likely to remain as such for the rest of her life. This inequality has endured through several generations and strongly conditions Latin Americans´ style and quality of life. Several studies have documented how state-society interactions and economic mechanisms have generated structures and institutions that perpetuate inequality. However, most of this previous research provides economic or political-economic explanations that tend to overlook more subtle mechanisms. Indelible Inequalities contributes to filling this vacuum, tracing processes that reinforce social disparities through non-evident channels in day-to-day lives. As a multidimensional phenomenon, inequality is difficult to embrace analytically. Acknowledging this, the contributors examine inequality by building on sociologist Charles Tilly’s relational framework. Tilly argues that groups can be conceptually differentiated through “bounded categories ” that operate through discursive and material mechanisms producing and reproducing inequality over time. The authors use their expertise in history, political science, anthropology and cultural studies together with statistics, ethnographic research and historical and aesthetic analysis to illustrate how inequality is sustained in the region. The first two essays set the theoretical framework of the book, provide a general examination of what is and is not inequality, and explore how ethnicity and class help to explain the social distance between the elites and the masses. The other essays trace the continuance of inequality in different settings. One chapter relates how inequality shapes the aspirations and worldview of the slum dwellers of Pamplona Alta, in the outskirts of Lima. It reveals how extremely poor people feel and think about themselves , and argues that anti-poverty programs do not target the necessities of the have-nots due to their top-down design. Another chapter discusses how the deployment of two healthcare systems in Peru divided along social and cultural categories – one for urban workers and the other for rural populations – has become a mechanism that reinforces gender and ethnic inequality. An essay on Brazil shows that political information is asymmetrically absorbed according to the neighborhood, income and gender of the receiver. The evidence provided in this chapter suggests that since poor 191 The Latin Americanist, June 2012 people, blacks and females are less informed and less likely to participate in politics, their ability to influence public policy is further reduced. A chapter on Cuba adds to the discussion of inequality by analyzing how black hip-hop singers and a painter express the racism that permeates a society organized under a government that is proud of its antiracist and egalitarian policies. The final chapter traces how Latin American inequality is projected in upstate New York through undocumented Latino farm workers , who have become a powerless rural underclass in the United States. Indelible Inequalities is an illuminating volume for scholars interested in innovative approaches to inequality, or for readers familiar with Latin American history interested in how inequality is perpetrated through lessconspicuous means. Readers will gain from both individual chapters and the volume as a whole. The collective effort to unify different research methods and approaches through Tilly´s relational framework, however, has limits. Some contributors are more skilled than others in using the framework, and in some essays the framework seems forced. Additionally, the chapters are not equally compelling. For instance, it is not clear if the artistic production of a few hip-hop groups and a painter in Cuba are substantial evidence of the alleged racism on the island. The case selection also works against the generalizability of the collective endeavor. The essays only examine three countries–Peru, Brazil, and Cuba–providing a narrow geographical approach to a work that refers to a region composed of approximately 20 countries. It is not clear why Peru deserves two chapters, nor...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1557-203X
Print ISSN
1557-2021
Pages
pp. 191-192
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-25
Open Access
No
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