Political Violence and the Authoritarian State in Peru

Political Violence and the Authoritarian State in Peru


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The Shining Path was one of the most brutal insurgencies ever seen in the Western Hemisphere. Political Violence and the Authoritarian State in Peru explores the devastating effects of insurgent violence and the state’s brutal counterinsurgency methods on Peruvian civil society. Drawing on ethnographic research in Lima’s vast shantytowns, the author provides original insights into Shining Path’s efforts to spread its revolution to the capital city and the evolving responses of the urban poor to the insurgency. The book examines how the growing insurgent threat gave rise to a despotic regime led by Alberto Fujimori and his secret advisor, Vladimiro Montesinos, until it collapsed under the weight of its own corruption and the rebirth of civil society. Burt’s analysis provides compelling insights into the way societies sacrifice freedom and democracy in the name of fighting terrorism, but also the way ruling elites manipulate societal fears to perpetuate their power and privilege.

Jo-Marie Burt is Associate Professor of Government and Politics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. She was a Fulbright Scholar and visiting researcher at the Catholic University of Peru in 2006, and she served as a research consultant for the Peruvian Truth and Justice Commission in 2002-2003. She is co-editor, with Philip Mauceri, of Politics in the Andes: Identity, Conflict, Reform (2004). In 2008, Political Violence and the Authoritarian State in Peru was nominated for the WOLA-Duke book award for the best non-fiction book published in English on human rights, democracy and social justice in contemporary Latin America.

“Burt’s book brings the clarity of well reported facts, so often lost in the thick fog of insurgencies, together with a lucid analysis of events and outcomes. Hers is an outstanding examination of the lethal yet intricate confrontation between the Shining Path and the Peruvian state that had democracy and civil society as its main casualties and ended up in a decade-long barely disguised dictatorship. She narrates and explains an often tragic, uniquely Peruvian story, yet succeeds in expressing its universal resonance.”–Gustavo Gorriti, award-winning journalist and author of The Shining Path: A History of the Millenarian War in Peru“This book is a dazzling achievement. Jo-Marie Burt offers a riveting, up-close analysis of political violence, the state, and civil society in Peru. This rigorous, nuanced work revises much of the conventional wisdom about both Peru’s Shining Path insurgency and the Alberto Fujimori government. With important insights about how insurgencies can exploit weak states and how authoritarian leaders can exploit the legacies of political violence, this book is invaluable for persons seeking to understand the challenges of democracy building in today’s world.”–Cynthia McClintock, Professor of Political Science and International Affairs, George Washington University

Introduction: Civil Society, Political Violence, and the Authoritarian State in Peru * PART I: STATE FORMATION AND STATE DEFORMATION * The Weak State * Social Consequences of State Breakdown * Terror versus Terror * The Crisis of Organized Politics * PART II: GRAY ZONES AND GUERRILLAS: SHINING PATH IN LIMA * The Iron Belts of Misery * In the Gray Zones: States of Shining Path * The Battle of Villa El Salvador * PART III: STATE MAKING AGAINST DEMOCRACY * The Authoritarian Reconstitution of the State * ‘Quien habla es terrorista‘: The Politics of Fear * The Authoritarian State and the Resurgence of Civil Society 

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Weight 1 oz
Dimensions 1 × 6 × 9 in