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Neoliberalism in Latin America: Ideology, Politics and Social Contestation


Admission requirements



In the 2000s, a challenging period started for the neoliberal hegemony in Latin America as leftist leaders began to gain growing electoral support in the region, a phenomenon known as the ‘Pink Tide’. This rise of the Left weakened the hegemonic status that neoliberalism achieved after returning to the new democracies during the 1980s. After this ‘turn to the Left’, neoliberal policies and ideas began to be seen by a part of the population as the leading cause of the increasing degree of social and economic inequality in the region. This course analyses the central features of neoliberalism and explores its origin in Latin America. Furthermore, it examines the present-day challenges of neoliberalism in an environment of growing anti-neoliberal social movements.

Course objectives

  1. Students will gain knowledge of the general characteristics of neoliberalism.
  2. Students will gain an understanding of the particular features of neoliberalism in Latin America and its evolution during part of the 20th and 21st centuries.
  3. Students will gain an understanding of the present-day challenges faced by neoliberal policies and ideas in Latin America, especially after the rise of the ‘Pink Tide’ in the 2000s.


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction


The modes of instruction are lectures. Attendance is mandatory (you are allowed to miss a maximum of three of the twelve sessions)

The course is built around the following central themes:

  1. Theoretical approaches on neoliberalism
  2. Socio-economic development under ISI policies
  3. Military regimes, nationalism and the neoliberal technocracy
  4. Macroeconomic stability and market opening during the 1990s
  5. ‘Pink Tide’ and social contestation after the 2000s: neoliberalism under threat
  6. The Chilean case: An example of extreme neoliberalism in Latin America
  7. The Brazilian case: An example of moderate neoliberalism in Latin America

Assessment method


Group Presentation 40%

A PowerPoint presentation of approximately 15 minutes analysing a case study, that pays attention to neoliberal policies, anti-neoliberal movements or political processes inspired by neoliberal ideas.

The presentation groups (approximately 3 students) will be formed during the second or third meeting, around one of central themes of the course:

The presentation group will present a case study relevant to the theme of choice. The aim of the group is to work collectively on the theme of choice, deepening the understanding by analysing a concrete case study of the region. In addition, the group forms the space to practice academic skills such us doing research in a team, presenting research results, and leading an academic debate.

Written exam at the end of the course 60%

The course will be closed with a written examination with open questions on the content of the course (the lectures, the literature and the presentations by the research groups).


Partial grade Weighing
Group Presentation 40%
Written Exam 60%

End Grade

  • The end grade of the course is established by determining the weighted average of Presentation grade and Exam grade.


To be announced.

Exam review and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organised.

Reading list

Albala, A., & Tricot Salomon, V. (2020). Social Movements and Political Representation in Chile (1990–2013). Latin American Perspectives, 47(4), 131-149.
Baer, W. (2013) The Brazilian Economy, Boulder: Lynne Rienner Press
Dean, M. (2014). Rethinking neoliberalism. Journal of Sociology, 50(2), 150-163.
Fishlow, A. (2011) Starting Over: Brazil Since 1985, Washington DC: Brookings Institution
Grugel, J., & Riggirozzi, P. (2012). Post‐neoliberalism in Latin America: Rebuilding and reclaiming the State after crisis. Development and change, 43(1), 1-21.
Hunter, W., & Power, T. J. (2019). Bolsonaro and Brazil's illiberal backlash. Journal of Democracy, 30(1), 68-82.
Kay, C. (2010). Latin American theories of development and underdevelopment. London: Routledge.
Keen, B., & Haynes, K. (2013). A history of Latin America (Ninth ed.). Belmont, Calif.]: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.
Mirowski, Philip, & Plehwe, Dieter. (2009). The Road from Mont Pèlerin. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Roett, R. (2011) The New Brazil, Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.
Rumie Rojo, S. A. (2019). Chicago Boys en Chile: Neoliberalismo, saber experto y el auge de una nueva tecnocracia. Revista Mexicana de Ciencias Políticas y Sociales, (235), 139-164.
Silva, E. (2009). Challenging Neoliberalism in Latin America. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Silva, P. (1991). Technocrats and Politics in Chile: From the Chicago Boys to the CIEPLAN Monks. Journal of Latin American Studies, 23(2), 385-410.
Silva, P. (2008). In the name of reason: Technocrats and politics in Chile. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press.
Venugopal, R. (2015). Neoliberalism as concept. Economy and Society, 44(2), 165-187.
Williamson, E. (1992). The Penguin history of Latin America. New York: The Penguin Press.



S.A. Rumie Rojo Ph.D.