Yashar, Deborah J. Contesting citizenship in Latin America: the rise of indigenous movements and the postliberal challenge. Cambridge, 2005. 365p bibl index afp ISBN 0-521-82746-9, $85.00; ISBN 0-521-53480-1 pbk, $37.99. Reviewed in 2006jan CHOICE.
Recent indigenous activism in Latin America has garnered a growing amount of academic attention. Largely basing her book on case studies of Ecuador, Bolivia, and Peru, Yashar (politics, Princeton Univ.) argues that changing citizenship regimes that challenged local autonomy led to the politicization of ethnic identities. In addition, political associational space provided opportunities to organize, and transcommunity networks allowed for the emergence of large-scale organizations. These three factors, in Yashar's opinion, explain the emergence of strong indigenous movements in Ecuador and Bolivia while no similar movement developed in Peru. Whereas Sawyer presents her book Crude Chronicles (CH, Apr'05, 42-4812) as politically engaged research, Yashar describes her work as theoretically engaged. The result is a theoretically rich but historically and ethnographically problematic work. Yashar paints indigenous movements as a triumph of ethnic identities over class-based politics, but as indigenous activists have repeatedly demonstrated, multiple manifestations of identities cannot be so easy disentangled, and it is unclear if there is a purpose, other than as a purely academic exercise, to attempt to do so. This book will be most useful to those engaging political science theories of citizenship, democracy, and state formation. Summing Up: Optional. Graduate students/faculty. -- M. Becker, Truman State University