Political Exile in Latin America

Luis Roniger

in Latin American Studies

ISBN: 9780199766581
Published online January 2014 | | DOI:
Political Exile in Latin America

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  • Regional and Area Studies
  • History of the Americas


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Since independence, political exile—as both expulsion and expatriation—has been a major mechanism of exclusion widely used and abused by Latin American states. Resulting from political persecution but stopping short of annihilating the opposition, exile represents a pattern of politics built upon exclusion. While rooted in colonial practices, its recurrent use after independence has contributed to reinforcing the exclusionary rules of political systems. In the 20th century, a major transformation occurred in the structure of exile, when it transformed from a selective mechanism mostly involving political, social, and cultural elites into a mass phenomenon, correlated with the democratization of politics and the opening of public spheres to sectarian political participation. In this latter stage, the international and transnational arenas also became increasingly prominent. The recurrent use of exile reflects ongoing challenges to the structure of power in exclusionary political systems and limited democracies. States have expelled their own citizens and residents while simultaneously providing sites of asylum for persecuted individuals of other lands. This Janus-face of states, which adopt selective and often disparate policies of displacement and asylum, constitutes a challenging domain of research into the relationships of state politics and civil society in the Americas. The contradictory nature of the policies of asylum and exclusion has prompted analyses both at the level of institutional strategies and in terms of the challenges that migratory processes pose to the reshaping of collective identities and competitiveness over access to resources. An equally fascinating and still largely uncharted area of research is that of the partial return of exiles. The many facets of exile have prompted multidisciplinary approaches to this phenomenon; there are studies that stress exile as a political and sociological phenomenon, while others tackle it from psychological, anthropological, and cultural perspectives of discussion.

Article.  38099 words. 

Subjects: Regional and Area Studies ; History of the Americas

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