Seeking Rights from the Left

Gender, Sexuality, and the Latin American Pink Tide

Book Pages: 344 Illustrations: Published: January 2019

Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, Latin American Studies, Sociology > Social Theory

Seeking Rights from the Left offers a unique comparative assessment of left-leaning Latin American governments by examining their engagement with feminist, women's, and LGBT movements and issues. Focusing on the “Pink Tide” in eight national cases—Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Uruguay, and Venezuela—the contributors evaluate how the Left addressed gender- and sexuality-based rights through the state. Most of these governments improved the basic conditions of poor women and their families. Many significantly advanced women's representation in national legislatures. Some legalized same-sex relationships and enabled their citizens to claim their own gender identity. They also opened opportunities for feminist and LGBT movements to press forward their demands. But at the same time, these governments have largely relied on heteropatriarchal relations of power, ignoring or rejecting the more challenging elements of a social agenda and engaging in strategic trade-offs among gender and sexual rights. Moreover, the comparative examination of such rights arenas reveals that the Left's more general political and economic projects have been profoundly, if at times unintentionally, informed by traditional understandings of gender and sexuality.

Contributors: Sonia E. Alvarez, María Constanza Diaz, Rachel Elfenbein, Elisabeth Jay Friedman, Niki Johnson, Victoria Keller, Edurne Larracoechea Bohigas, Amy Lind, Marlise Matos, Shawnna Mullenax, Ana Laura Rodríguez Gustá, Diego Sempol, Constanza Tabbush, Gwynn Thomas, Catalina Trebisacce, Annie Wilkinson 


"Seeking Rights from the Left provides a relevant and nuanced overview of the extremely complex and diverse political processes commonly known as the Pink Tide in Latin America, focusing on gender and sexuality issues. . . . The book raises old and new questions about relationships among the left—broadly speaking—and feminist, women’s, gay, lesbian, and transgender political demands." — Nayla Luz Vacarezza, Mobilization

"The depth of analysis contained in this collection is remarkable. As the chapters reveal, the quest to secure political rights for women and the LGBT community during the Pink Tide era was full of contradictions and mixed results. However, as Sonia E. Alvarez suggests in her afterword, that is precisely what makes this a valuable contribution to the fields of Latin American Studies, Gender and Sexuality, and Politics: it provides a historical dimension to further understand the vibrant cultural developments of activists who remain committed to defend human rights today." — Ángela Pérez-Villa, Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology

"As an edited volume, the book is well organized and thematically coherent. . . . The introduction written by Elisabeth Jay Friedman and Constanza Tabbush should be carefully read and reread. Here the authors provide a wonderfully written exposition of the volume’s conceptual and methodological framework and the research questions animating not just its own empirical chapters but the broader field as well. As such, I recommend it (and the rest of the volume) to anyone teaching relevant graduate seminars." — Matthew Ward, Gender & Society

"Seeking Rights from the Left is an original and provocative comparative assessment of eight Pink Tide nations and their engagement with the demands of feminist and queer movements." — Julie Marzec, Latin American Politics & Society

“One of the strengths of this volume is that each chapter features many different voices–from the elite as well as the marginalized and from both political insiders and outsiders–in order to provide a full and complete picture of a critical period in Latin American history…. Seeking Rights from the Left is an intriguing and thought-provoking volume.”

— Evan C. Rothera, Social Movement Studies

"Seeking Rights from the Left is a valuable addition to the growing body of literature on feminist and queer activism, and represents an important and timely contribution to scholarly understandings of the relationship between grassroots identity-based movements and state power." — Baird Campbell, Journal of Latin American Research

Seeking Rights from the Left represents a much needed advance in the study of comparative politics, left politics, and gender and sexuality studies more generally. Eschewing simplistic formulae, this book takes on the nuance and complexity of contemporary efforts to advance a progressive agenda in Latin America in a global context that is riven by contradictions. This volume offers a rich theoretical treatment, amply demonstrating the shortcomings of a single-issue approach to understanding political change. No one dedicated to understanding or driving progressive political change should miss the lessons from this book.” — S. Laurel Weldon, coauthor of The Logics of Gender Justice: State Action on Women’s Rights Around the World

Seeking Rights from the Left is a pleasure to read. The contributors—a mix of established and younger authors, scholars, and activists—offer fresh perspectives on Latin America's ‘Pink Tide,’ bringing new knowledge and critical insights to bear on governments celebrated for being committed to principles of equality and diversity.” — Maxine Molyneux, Professor of Sociology at University College London


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Elisabeth Jay Friedman is Professor of Politics and Latin American Studies at the University of San Francisco and the author of several books, including Interpreting the Internet: Feminist and Queer Counterpublics in Latin America.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Foreword / Amy Lind  ix
Acknowledgments  xiii
Introduction. Contesting the Pink Tide / Elisabeth Jay Friedman and Constanza Tabbush  1
1. Explaining Advances and Drawbacks in Women's and LGBTIQ Rights in Uruguay: Multisited Pressures, Political Resistance, and Structural Inertias / Niki Johnson, Ana Laura Rodríguez Gustá, and Diego Sempol  48
2. LGBT Rights Yes, Abortion No: Explaining Uneven Trajectories in Argentina under Kirchnerism (2003-15) / Constanza Tabbush, María Constanza Díaz, Catalina Trebisacce, and Victoria Keller  82
3. Working within a Gendered Political Consensus: Uneven Progress on Gender and Sexuality Rights in Chile / Gwynn Thomas  115
4. Gender and Sexuality in Brazilian Public Policy: Progress and Regression in Depatriarchalizing and Deheteronormalizing the State / Marlise Matos  144
5. De Jure Transformation, De Facto Stagnation: The Status of Women's and LGBT Rights in Bolivia / Shawnna Mullenax  173
6. Toward Feminist Socialism? Gender, Sexuality, Popular Power, and the State in Venezuela's Bolivarian Revolution / Rachel Elfenbein  200
7. Nicaragua and Ortega's "Second" Revolution: "Restituting the Rights" of Women and Sexual Diversity? / Edurne Larracoechea Bohigas  235
8. Ecuador's Citizen Revolution (2007-17): A Lost Decade for Women's Rights and Gender Equality / Annie Wilkinson  269
Afterword. Maneuvering the "U-Turn": Comparative Lessons from the Pink Tide and Forward-Looking Strategies for Feminist and Queer Activisms in the Americas / Sonia E. Alvarez  305
Contributors  313
Index  317
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