Grounding Rights

Populist and Peasant Conceptions of Entitlement in Rural Nicaragua

in Social Analysis
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Abstract

Since the Sandinistas returned to power in Nicaragua in 2007, ideas about rights have been central to the governing party’s populist project. The rights in question are understood to require the production of ‘organized’ citizens, integrated into mechanisms of popular governance. But for rural Sandinistas who participated in the revolutionary agrarian reform of the 1980s, rights are about land; and for some, realizing rights has required disentangling themselves from local organs of organized life, resulting in their exclusion from the government’s populist model of rights. The contending ideas about how to legitimately ground rights that result—and the effort of these excluded Sandinistas to make revolutionary ‘struggle’ the basis of entitlements—trouble a standard anthropological model that views abstract rights as subsequently particularized in practice.

Contributor Notes

David Cooper is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at University College London. He conducted fieldwork in rural Nicaragua, focusing on the way Sandinista supporters understand their involvement with the party’s ongoing project. This led to an investigation of the intersection of campesino social life and ‘Pink Tide’ politics in Nicaragua, particularly in relation to themes of land rights, clientelism, envy, and state welfare projects. He is currently working on a monograph, provisionally titled “El Pueblo Presidente: The Moral Economy of Populism in Rural Nicaragua.” E-mail: dtcooper@ucl.ac.uk

Social Analysis

The International Journal of Anthropology

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