LAC Main Seminar Series: Recognition Politics: Ethnic Conflict and Indigenous Rights in the Andes

Convener: David Doyle

Speaker: Lorenza B. Fontana, University of Glasgow

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The seminar will be the opportunity to present Lorenza’s new book Recognition Politics, forthcoming with Cambridge University Press in December 2022. The book provides an empirically grounded analysis and original theoretical framework to understand a new wave of widely overlooked ethnic conflicts that have emerged across the Andean region, coinciding with the implementation of internationally acclaimed indigenous rights. Why are groups that have peacefully cohabited for decades suddenly engaging in hostile and at times violent behaviours? What is the link between these conflicts and changes in collective self-identification, claims-making and rent-seeking dynamics? And how, in turn, are these changes driven by broader legal and policy reforms? The book argues that institutional reforms promoting the recognition of ethnic groups can strengthen identity boundaries and work as triggers of old and new social tensions. These tensions are rooted in the differential treatment that communities of rural poor receive under the new recognition framework. Recognition conflicts are particularly evident in those regions characterized by high socio-demographic heterogeneity, often resulting from migration and displacement, and by precarious livelihoods that increase competition over resources typically linked to recognition politics, such as land. To develop this argument, Fontana draws on extensive empirical material and case studies of conflicts from three Andean countries – Bolivia, Colombia and Peru – which have been global pioneers in the implementation of recognition politics.


lorenza fontana

Lorenza B. Fontana is Associate Professor of International Politics in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Glasgow. Her research has addressed questions around the ethnic politics of socio-environmental conflicts, the domestic politics of human rights of vulnerable groups and, more recently, the contentious politics of wildfires.