Violence and Contemporary Capital Accumulation in Latin America

Issue editors: Matthew Lorenzen and Andrew Smolski

In Drug War Capitalism, author Dawn Paley provides the compelling thesis, harkening back to Marx’s writings on primitive accumulation and David Harvey’s contemporary analysis, that violence enables the expansion of the capitalist system by accumulation through dispossession. This thematic issue focuses on the link between contemporary forms of capital accumulation and violence in Latin America, through analysis of recent emblematic cases and trends, and of the effects of this violence, including displacement. Latin America has long been one of the most violent regions in the world. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) database, in 2012 (the most recent year for which the most complete dataset is available), 9 of the 20 countries and territories with the highest homicide rates in the world were in Latin America, namely Honduras, Venezuela, El Salvador, Guatemala, Colombia, Brazil, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico.

This special issue’s focus is on how contemporary capital accumulation generates violence that disproportionately affects the civilian population. Recent emblematic cases and trends include rampant drug-related violence in Mexico and Central America, the murder of environmental activists such as Berta Cáceres in struggles over control of land and natural resources, as well as of journalists who investigate and denounce this violence, especially in Mexico, where, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, almost 100 journalists have been killed or disappeared since the so-called war on drugs was launched in 2006. Although the perpetrators can be state or non-state actors (or often both working together), the unifying framework of our analysis is the recognition that contemporary capital accumulation is a root cause of a broad spectrum of violence with serious political and social consequences.

We seek contributions that theorize and document these linkages including examination of the role of violence in the restructuring of national economies, regarding both their “legal” and “illegal” sectors, the role of transnational finance and extractive capital, and the interests and foreign policy of the United States and other core countries. Other effects of the violence-accumulation link are worsening social, economic, and environmental indicators, creating a vicious feedback loop in which accumulation by powerful interests has brought about not benefits but deteriorating conditions for the majority, such as the toxic effects of mining on the environment and public health, internal displacement and large scale migration, including the surge of minors from the Northern Triangle countries emigrating to the US, corruption that penetrates, transforms, and weakens state institutions, and the undermining of  democracy.

We also seek contributions on the initiatives and movements for peace and justice that have arisen to confront the violence in Latin America. Some of these movements attempt to develop alternative structures of politics and economics that can be analyzed using the conceptual framework of dual power, for example, autodefensas and the Cherán uprising in Michoacán and community police in Guerrero, Mexico. We also seek to analyze other forms of resistance to violence and violence-generating accumulation, such as movements mobilized around indigenous rights, the communes in Venezuela, and organizing against extractive development projects. Finally, we propose to evaluate the potential of these initiatives and movements to halt the violence and to explore other alternatives that might significantly diminish violence in Latin America.

We invite submissions on all relevant topics that deal with the accumulation-violence link. Topics could include but are not limited to analysis of:

  • Violence as an integral element of capital accumulation. This could include analysis of either legal or illegal accumulation or both. Gangs and other criminal groups could be analyzed as transnational organizations engaged in capital accumulation through drug trafficking, human trafficking, extortion, the weapons trade, etc. We welcome studies of individual countries or economic sectors (such as maquiladoras, agri-business or mineral extraction) as well as comparative or regional studies.
  • Collaboration between private economic interests (national and international), “security” forces (police, military, etc.) and other state institutions (governors, mayors, ministries, the judiciary, etc.) in perpetrating or facilitating violence as a political-economic component of the strategy of capital accumulation.
  • How United States policy to promote capital accumulation exacerbates violence, especially the “war on drugs.”
  • How other foreign actors’ (countries or institutions) support of capital accumulation contributes to violence.
  • The impact of accumulation-related violence on society as a whole or on particular groups, such as the urban poor and indigenous and rural communities. This could include analysis of displacement and migration.
  • The impact of violence and the contemporary distribution of economic power it supports on civil society and politics. This could consider how economic interests depend on violence in forms ranging from the 2009 Honduran coup to the assault on journalism through the killing, disappearance, and intimidation of journalists.
  • The strengths and weaknesses of resistance movement strategies that seek to create dual power, including how anti-violence movements challenge current economic models of capital accumulation through cooperativization, subsistence production, and other non-commodified modes of production.
  • The strengths and weaknesses of other forms of resistance to violence and violence-generating accumulation such as movements mobilized around labor and indigenous rights or families of the disappeared.

SUBMITTING MANUSCRIPTS

To avoid duplication of content, please contact the issue editors to let them know of your interest in submitting and your proposed topic. We encourage submission as soon as possible, preferaby by Jan. 30, 2018, but this call will remain open as long as it is posted on the LAP web site.

Manuscripts should be no longer than 8,000 words of paginated, double-spaced 12 point text with 1 inch margins, including notes and references, using the LAP Style Guidelines available at  www.latinamericanperspectives.com under the “Submit” tab where the review process is also described.   Manuscripts should be consistent with the LAP Mission Statement available on the web site under the “About” tab.

Manucripts may be submitted in English, Spanish, or Portuguese. If you do not write in English with near native fluency, please submit in your first language.  LAP will translate manuscripts accepted in languages other than English. If you are not submitting in English, please indicate if you will have difficulty reading reviews and/or correspondence from the LAP office in English.

Please feel free to contact the issue editors with questions pertaining to the issue but all manuscripts should be submitted directly to the LAP office, not to the issue editors. A manuscript is not considered submitted until it has been received by the LAP office.  You should receive acknowledgment of receipt of your manuscript within a few days.  If you do not receive an acknowledgment from LAP after one week, please send a follow-up inquiry to be sure your submission arrived.

E-mail Submissions: send to lap@ucr.edu

  • Subject Line: Author name – Manuscript for Violence and Accumulation issue
    Please attach your manuscript as a Word Document (doc or docx)
  • Include: Abstract (100 words), 5 Keywords, and a separate cover page with short author affiliations (less than 130 words) and complete contact information (e-mail, postal address, telephone).

Postal correspondence may be sent to:
Managing Editor, Latin American Perspectives¸
P.O. Box 5703, Riverside, California 92517-5703.

For an article with more than one author, provide contact information for all authors but designate one person as the Corresponding Author who will receive correspondence from the LAP office.  If any contact information changes while your manuscript is under consideration, please send the updated information to LAP promptly.

Submission of a manuscript implies commitment to publish in the journal. Authors should not submit a manuscript that has been previously published in English in identical or substantially similar form nor should they simultaneously submit it or a substantially similar manuscript to another journal in English.  LAP will consider manuscripts that have been published in another language, usually with updating.  Prior publication should be noted, along with the publication information.

Issue editor contact information:
Andrew Smolski –  arsmolsk@ncsu.edu
Matthew Lorenzen – lorenzem@usc.edu