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Latin American Perspectives

Latin American Perspectives, A Journal on Capitalism and Socialism, is a peer-reviewed academic journal that publishes papers in the field of Latin American studies. It was established in 1974 and is currently published by SAGE Publications. The managing editor is Ronald Chilcote, Edward A. Dickson Emeritus Professor of Economics and Political Science at the University of California, Riverside. LAP is the #1 journal in the Latin American Studies category of Google Scholar Metrics.

socialism capitalism lap

1. History

Latin American Perspectives emerged from the political and intellectual ferment of the late 1960s and early 1970s, notably the civil rights and anti-war movements that raised concerns about social justice and questioned the rationale and goals of U.S. foreign policy. Young academics, influenced by the work of radical scholars like C. Wright Mills and Paul Baran, critical of U.S. intervention in Latin America, and supportive of movements for social change, particularly the Cuban Revolution, formed the Union of Radical Latin Americanists (URLA) under the direction of Chilcote and Joel Edelstein within the Latin American Studies Association (LASA). Their objectives included opening up the field to methodological approaches including Marxism and to cutting edge work by Latin American theorists and scholars. They urged LASA to create a new journal that would reflect these concerns, and the LASA membership approved a resolution in support. Chilcote was invited by LASA to develop a proposal for an alternative journal in 1970. However, after LASA failed to secure support from the Ford Foundation and it was unable to fund the proposed journal, the project was carried forward by Chilcote and a group based in Southern California, who were also involved in the Los Angeles Group for Latin American Solidarity (LAGLAS) which at the time was very active in solidarity with Allende’s Chile.

In May 1973, on behalf of the Southern California group, Chilcote and fellow URLA member William Bollinger presented a proposal for a new journal to the URLA members at the LASA Congress in Madison, Wisconsin, who approved the idea. Subsequently the Southern California group decided to proceed with an independent journal and announced its decision in a September 1973 report to the URLA. In addition to Chilcote and Bollinger, the founders included Frances Chilcote, Donald Bray, Marjorie Bray, Timothy Harding, Norma Chinchilla and Carlos Muñoz.[1] Other progressive Southern California academics soon joined the collective, including Nora Hamilton, Richard Harris and Michel Kearney. Many members of the core group had been graduate students at Stanford University where they worked on the Hispanic American Report, edited by Ronald Hilton, which was best known for having revealed in 1960 CIA preparations for the upcoming Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in April 1961. Coming from disciplines such as history, political science, and sociology, they had done research in Latin American countries including Chile, Mexico, Peru, and Brazil and become committed to supporting movements for social justice and revolutionary change.[2]

The founders decided that the new journal would be different not only in content but in its organization, with decisions made by a democratic editorial collective. Ronald Chilcote was elected managing editor, a post he has held ever since. They also decided to publish primarily thematic issues that could examine topics in depth from multiple perspectives. From the beginning, the journal sought contributors from Latin America and assumed the cost of translating manuscripts from Spanish, Portuguese, and occasionally French, a policy that made it unique in the field. The collective recruited leading progressive scholars from the United States and Latin America to serve as editor-reviewers with an approximately equal representation from each geographic area.

2. Political Prientation

The journal rejected the idea of scholarship as politically neutral but also eschewed dogmatic and sectarian approaches to political economic and social analysis. The founders’ statement in the first issue[3] affirmed their commitment to intellectually rigorous analysis that contributed not only to understanding Latin American reality, but to developing viable strategies for transforming social structures. Describing itself as “a journal on capitalism and socialism,” LAP prioritized political economic analysis that examined power and class relations nationally and internationally and it welcomed articles from a diversity of disciplines and political viewpoints, including the various currents of Marxism.

3. Intellectual Trajectory

The journal’s initial engagement with capitalism and imperialism in Latin America highlighted the debate then underway among intellectuals on the left over the nature of the region’s insertion in the international political and economic order. Known as dependency theory, this body of work challenged the developmentalism or modernization theory then dominant in mainstream U.S. social science. It focused on the disparities in wealth and power between Latin American countries and the centers of Western capitalist development, with the United States as the hegemon, and their impact on Latin American economic, political, and social structures. Dependent development was understood as the subordination of Latin America’s independent development to the interests of foreign capital, enforced by U.S. intervention through support for oligarchic and bourgeois parties, coups against reformist and nationalist leaders, and direct military intervention, when other methods failed. Some dependency theorists advocated autonomous capitalist development with a nationalist bourgeoisie as a progressive force. Others saw socialism under working class leadership as the only alternative. Despite the often strong disagreements among writers identified as dependency theorists, their analysis raised key questions about the nature of class relations and possible political alliances to overcome underdevelopment, the viability of national capitalism, the changing nature of imperialism, and other issues that became important topics for the journal. While welcoming the challenge to mainstream theory, much of the work the journal published critiqued weaknesses in the dependency approach, frequently from a Marxist perspective. The journal’s analysis of capitalism also included thematic issues on specific social sectors such as the working class and the peasantry as well as on the class nature of the state in different countries.

The journal’s approach was evident in its first two issues which exemplified the application of Marxist political economic and class analysis to a particular topic or to a country or region. The inaugural issue “Dependency Theory: A Reassessment,” published in Spring 1974, included an introductory overview of the main tendencies within dependency theory by Chilcote[4] and contributions from major Latin American theorists of the different dependency currents, including Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Theotônio Dos Santos, Rodolfo Stavenhagen, and André Gunder Frank. The second issue: “Chile: Blood on the Peaceful Road,” published in Summer 1974, offered critical perspectives on the coup that had taken place less than a year before. It featured a class analysis of the Allende period and critiqued U.S. policy using an imperialism framework. In its early years LAP also applied political economic and class analysis to other controversial topics such as the Cuban Revolution as well as three thematic issues on the relationship between feminism and Marxism, and three issues on the role of the peasantry.

The journal also became a venue for articles examining strategies for social change. It included debates over reformist versus revolutionary approaches as well as debates over the priorities and strategies for revolutionary movements in power. The journal’s questioning of capitalism was complemented by articles that explicitly advocated socialism and debated alternative visions of socialist society. The interest in socialism was reflected in on-going analysis of the Cuban Revolution, examining issues, such as the role of moral vs. material incentives, both theoretically and empirically.[5] The first issue on the revolution was published in December 1975. From then through 2013, the journal published over 100 articles and book reviews on Cuba,[6] some in issues specifically on the revolution, others in broader thematic issues. Of particular significance were the Spring 1991 issue “Cuban Views on the Revolution” that was the first U.S. anthology of articles entirely by Cuban authors and the three issues in January, March, and May 2009 that marked the revolution’s fiftieth anniversary and included an introductory statement from the editorial collective both celebrating the revolution’s achievements and identifying unresolved problems.[7] In the 1980s, Central America became a prominent theme, with four issues specifically on the Sandinista[8][9][10][11] revolution and four more on the broader revolutionary struggles in the region.[12][13][14][15]

The journal’s study of capitalism was closely related to examination of imperialism, which was the dominant framework for analyzing U.S.-Latin American relations and the role of foreign capital in Latin America. In addition to criticism of U.S. foreign policy, especially its role in the armed conflicts in Central America in the 1980s, articles considered the changing nature of transnational investment in the wake of free trade agreements primarily the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and labor-capital relations in new forms of production such as maquiladoras. With the ascendancy of the “Washington Consensus” promoted by Reagan and Thatcher that imposed neoliberalism on Latin America, the journal increasingly published critiques of the consequences of neoliberal economic and social policies such as the privatization of state industries and austerity budgets with sharp reductions in state services. Neoliberalism became a major topic in the journal and articles examined the interrelated economic and social restructuring at many levels, including the workplace, the family and community as well as from national and regional perspectives. Neoliberalism was implemented within the multiple, interrelated processes of transnationalization that were generally described in combination as globalization. LAP authors challenged the mainstream view that corporate-led globalization was desirable or at least inevitable. Notably, a November 2002 issue[16] examined contending perspectives with most authors considering corporate-led globalization as a contemporary form of imperialism. Given the large scale international movements of workers in response to globalization and neoliberalism, migration became a theme addressed in several thematic issues[17][18][19][20][21][22][23] as well as in individual articles.

After 1990, the journal’s content reflected political and theoretical changes within the left. The electoral defeat of the Sandinistas, the military stalemate and political settlement that ended the armed struggle in El Salvador, in the context of the collapse of the Soviet Union and Eastern European regimes created a new political environment that seemed to foreclose revolutionary outcomes in the foreseeable future. In the meantime, new mass political forces such as the Brazilian Workers Party (PT) and the Chilean Concertación were taking shape and achieving electoral success. Grassroots movements challenging neoliberalism emerged in most of Latin American countries from the Zapatistas in Chiapas to the urban piqueteros (unemployed activists) in Argentina. Analysis of this new political conjuncture and emerging social movements became another major focus for the journal, which published several thematic issues on social movements[24][25][26][27][28][29][30][31] in addition to many individual articles. As leftist and left-leaning governments were elected in numerous Latin American countries in a so-called “pink tide,” special issues focused on the transformations in individual countries as well as on the hemispheric development of a new 21st century left or 21st century socialism.[32] This included consideration of the importance of indigenous movements in the coalitions bringing to power the leftist MAS (Movement toward Socialism) under Evo Morales in Bolivia and the Revolución Ciudadana (Citizens’ Revolution) under Rafael Correa in Ecuador[33] and analysis of their innovative political and constitutional principles such as plurinationalism and buen vivir (living well) as foundations of governance and social policy.

The journal also addressed new currents of critical theory. Gramsci’s concepts of ideology, hegemony, civil society and “wars of position” became influential in analysis of Latin America’s new social movements and their political strategies. The journal also published work that critically examined Foucault, Laclau, and other theorists broadly characterized as “post-Marxist,” notably in a Spring 1990 article by Chilcote on “Post-Marxism: The Retreat from Class in Latin America”[34] and continued to emphasize Marxist class analysis.

The journal also responded to post Cold War U.S. policy in Latin America, including the disjuncture between rhetoric and reality under president Obama. The LAP editorial collective issued a critical statement on Obama’s Latin American policy “Dangerous Complacencies: Obama, Latin America, and the Misconceptions of Power” in a special issue on Obama and Latin America in July 2011.[35]

Although LAP had published pioneering issues and articles on women [2] and culture[36] in the 1970s, these themes became more prominent in recent years. The journal’s content on women expanded to a broader consideration of gender and sexuality and there was increased attention to the arts and media in issues on documentary film,[37] culture and memory,[38] narco-culture,[39] and on the arts, performance and cultural resistance.[40][41] The journal’s increased attention to art included its own format, which introduced covers with color photographs in 2007. It also welcomes photographs, especially by Latin American artists, to illustrate articles, and publishes photo essays. In 2012, the journal co- published Mexico at the Hour of Combat,[42] a book of rare photographs of the Mexican Revolution by Sabina Osuna, edited by Chilcote. In 2013, the journal began a new initiative that involved streaming Latin American documentary films as well as incorporating film reviews into journal issues.

A list of all issue themes through November 2013[43] was published in the 40th anniversary issue, which featured an intellectual history of the journal by Jawdat Abu-El-Haj, based on research conducted as a visiting LAP Fellow at the University of California Riverside library.

4. LAP Fellowships

Since 2007, LAP has offered fellowships for visiting scholars to use the resources at the University of California, Riverside library that include the complete LAP archives and the Ronald H. Chilcote Collection of material on the politics, economy, and history of Latin America, Portugal, and Portuguese-speaking Africa. Highlights include rare books and periodicals on Brazilian left movements, cordel literature, political ephemera, and recorded interviews. Fellows present their research to the LAP collective as well as to students and faculty at UCR and other area colleges. Articles based on the research are subsequently published in LAP. Fellowship recipients include Adam Morton, University of Nottingham, Francisco López Segrera, Universidad de Salamanca, Jawdat Abu El-Haj, Universidad Federal de Ceará, Luis Suárez Salazar, Universidad de Habana, Kemy Oyarzún, Universidad de Chile, Carlos Gómez Florentín, SUNY Stony Brook and Universidad Nacional de Asunción.

5. LAP Book Series

The journal sponsors two book series, LAP in the Classroom and Critical Currents, published by Rowman and Littlefield under Chilcote’s editorship.

The classroom series is based on material published in the journal edited to be appropriate for undergraduate courses. Recent titles include:

  • Rethinking Latin American Social Movements: Radical Action From Below (2014). Edited By Richard Stahler-Sholk; Harry E. Vanden and Marc Becker.
  • Latin America’s Radical Left: Challenges and Complexities of Political Power In The Twenty-First Century (2014). Edited by Steve Ellner.
  • Contemporary Latin American Social and Political Thought: An Anthology (2008). Edited by Iván Márquez.
  • Venezuela: Hugo Chávez and the Decline of an “Exceptional Democracy” (2006). Edited by: Steve Ellner and Miguel Tinker Salas.

The Critical Currents series analyzes the institutional, political, economic, and social forces that are shaping Latin America today. The books are theoretically challenging, often controversial, and are intended for scholars, advanced students, and general readers alike. Recent titles include:

  • Revolution and State in Modern Mexico: The Political Economy of Uneven Development-Updated Edition (2013). By Adam David Morton.
  • The New Latin American Left: Cracks in the Empire (2012). Edited by Jeffrey R. Webber and Barry Carr.
  • Pachakutik: Indigenous Movements and Electoral Politics in Ecuador (2010). By Marc Becker.
  • The Portuguese Revolution: State and Class in the Transition to Democracy (2009). By Ronald H. Chilcote.
  • Capital, Power, and Inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean New Edition (2008). Edited by Richard L. Harris and Jorge Nef.

6. Abstracting and Indexing

Latin American Perspectives is abstracted and indexed in Scopus, and the Social Sciences Citation Index. According to the Journal Citation Reports, its 2017 impact factor is 0.575, ranking it 135 out of 169 journals in the category "Political Science"[44] and 39 out of 68 journals in the category "Area Studies".[45]


  1. Chilcote, Ronald H (November 1998). "LAP at 25: Retrospective and New Challenges". Latin American Perspectives 25 (6): 5–22. doi:10.1177/0094582X9802500601.
  2. Abu-El-Haj, Jawdat (November 2013). "A Progressive Collective Intellectual and Its Social Knowledge". Latin American Perspectives 40 (6): 11–55. doi:10.1177/0094582X13505447.
  3. "Our Views". Latin American Perspectives 1 (1). March 1974. 
  4. Chilcote, Ronald H. (1974). "Dependency: a Critical Synthesis of the Literature". Latin American Perspectives 1 (March 1974): 4–29. doi:10.1177/0094582X7400100101.
  5. Abu-El-Haj, Jawdat (November 2013). "A Progressive Collective Intellectual and Its Social Knowledge". Latin American Perspectives 40 (6): 11–55. doi:10.1177/0094582X7400100101.
  6. "Articles and Reviews on Cuba in Latin American Perspectives, 1974-2008". Latin American Perspectives 36 (2): 148–155. March 2009. doi:10.1177/0094582X09331970.
  7. "On Celebrating the Cuban Revolution". Latin American Perspectives 36 (1): 5–16. January 2009. doi:10.1177/0094582X08328964.
  8. Lain American Perspectives. 8 (2). April 1981.
  9. Latin American Perspectives. 12 (2). April 1985.
  10. Latin American Perspectives. 14 (1). January 1987.
  11. Latin American Perspectives. 17 (3). July 1990.
  12. Latin American Perspectives. 7 (2-3). June 1980.
  13. Latin American Perspectives. 10 (1). January 1983.
  14. Latin American Perspectives. 16 (3). July 1989.
  15. Latin American Perspectives. 17 (4). October 1990.
  16. Latin American Perspectives. 29 (6). November 2002.
  17. Latin American Perspectives. 20 (3). July 1993.
  18. Latin American Perspectives. 31 (3). May 2004.
  19. Latin American Perspectives. 31 (5). September 2004.
  20. Latin American Perspectives. 33 (6). November 2006.
  21. Latin American Perspectives. 35 (1). January 2008.
  22. Latin American Perspectives. 37 (5). September 2010.
  23. Latin American Perspectives. 41 (3). May 2014.
  24. Latin American Perspectives. 19 (2). April 1992.
  25. Latin American Perspectives. 21 (2). April 1994.
  26. Latin American Perspectives. 21 (3). July 1994.
  27. Latin American Perspectives. 30 (1). January 2003.
  28. Latin American Perspectives. 30 (3). May 2003.
  29. Latin American Perspectives. 36 (4). July 2009.
  30. Latin American Perspectives. 38 (1). January 2011.
  31. Latin American Perspectives. 40 (4). July 2013.
  32. Latin American Perspectives. 40 (3). May 2010.
  33. Latin American Perspectives.   forthcoming.
  34. Chilcote, Ronald H. (April 1990). "Post-Marxism: The Retreat from Class in Latin America". Latin American Perspectives 17 (2): 3–24. doi:10.1177/0094582X9001700201.
  35. "Dangerous Complacencies: Obama, Latin America, and the Misconceptions of Power". Latin American Perspectives 38 (4): 14–28. July 2011. doi:10.1177/0094582X11406843.
  36. Latin American Perspectives. 5 (1). January 1978.
  37. Latin American Perspectives. 40 (1). January 2013.
  38. Latin American Perspectives. 36 (5). September 2009.
  39. Latin American Perspectives. 41 (2). March 2014.
  40. Latin American Perspectives. 39 (2). March 2012.
  41. Latin American Perspectives. 39 (3). May 2012.
  42. Chilcote, Ronald H. (2012). Mexico at the Hour of Combat. Laguna Beach, CA: Laguna Wilderness Press in association with Latin American Perspectives, University of California, Riverside Libraries, University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States, UCR Sweeney Art Gallery. ISBN 978-0-9728544-4-3. 
  43. "Forty Years of Latin American Perspectives". Latin American Perspectives 40 (6): 114–117. November 2013. doi:10.1177/0094582X13505446.
  44. "Journals Ranked by Impact: Political Science". 2017 Journal Citation Reports (Social Sciences ed.). Thomson Reuters. 2014. 
  45. "Journals Ranked by Impact: Area Studies". 2017 Journal Citation Reports (Social Sciences ed.). Thomson Reuters. 2017. 
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