Toward a 21st century reading of Latin America: a sympathetic critique of Ronaldo Munck’s Rethinking Latin America: Development, Hegemony, and Social Transformation Rethinking political economy from Latin America
Rethinking Latin America: development, hegemony, and social transformation, by Ronaldo Munck, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, 264 pp., £55.00 (hardback), ISBN 9781137004116
Toward a 21st century reading of Latin America: a sympathetic critique of Ronaldo Munck’s Rethinking Latin America: Development, Hegemony, and Social Transformation
William I. Robinson
I have been following over the past three decades and have deeply appreciated Ronaldo Munck’s contributions on Latin American politics and development, globalization, social movements, and labor in the world economy. The particular talent that Munck brings to his work – and what makes it so refreshing – is his ability to identify sweeping trends and historical shifts underway and to synthesize a broad range of literatures with his own analytical and theoretical insights. Rethinking Latin America is certainly no exception to this approach; yet, it is perhaps his most ambitious work to date in terms of historical synthesis. In it, he proposes a fresh interpretation of five centuries of development and social change in Latin America and five decades of academic and political debate on the region in light of its increasing importance in the global system. Grounded ultimately in an unorthodox Marxist critique of capitalism, Munck frames this synthesis within the concepts and categories of Antonio Gramsci and his Andean counterpart, Jose Mariategui, although he also draws eclectically from a wide range of thinkers, among them, Michel Foucault and Karl Polanyi. The following is a sympathetic reading of his latest work along with several critical observations as to what I see as shortcomings as well as points of disagreement.