Conference on Latin American History 63
The papers in this panel highlight cases of populist and nationalist state-formation in which ideas of belonging and political participation have been thrown up in the air by revolutionary turmoil and military dictatorship, but we believe our papers demonstrate continuity between each of these extremes. We argue that nationalist, populist, and even military governments had to engage local understandings of sovereignty, legitimacy, and reciprocity in order to impose order and create lasting forms of rule. We find that local engagements with the state could take many forms, and the papers in this panel look for creative ways to identify these lines of communication. Our papers highlight examples as diverse as magazine articles, community petitions, lawsuits, and shocking spectacles of violence in order to show how states and their citizens participated in the creation of new forms of politics during the twentieth century. Our papers explore the development of informal politics or ‘backchannel citizenship,’ for those formally excluded from participation, emphasize the importance of ‘local sovereignty,’ to the maintenance of regional power, show how states and citizens alike employ ‘productive miscommunications’ in order to carry out projects of mutual benefit, and finally, articulate the uses of spectacular violence to contain or enforce state authority.