A Relational Comparison of Authoritarian Populism: A Perspective from a Critique of Indigenous Property Rights in Honduras

Authors: Fernando Galeana*, Cornell University
Topics: Political Geography, Indigenous Peoples, Latin America
Keywords: nativism, populism, property rights, multiculturalism, indigenous peoples, Latin America
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Washington 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


A new political moment seems to be underway marked by the rise of right-wing nationalism and nativism. Scholars have recuperated the term “authoritarian populism” to characterize this conjuncture, noting how political support for these movements has been maintained by populations that feel disfranchised as a result of the implementation or failures of neoliberal policies. Usually associated with patriotic, xenophobic, or racist attitudes, authoritarian populism may also be reproduced by multicultural policies that purportedly recognize diversity. This paper applies Gillian Hart’s method of relational comparison to situate an analysis of multiculturalism and authoritarian populism in the contemporary conjuncture. By engaging with the case of the titling of indigenous lands in Honduras, I suggest that the uneven distribution of property rights among the different indigenous and afro-descendent groups is meant to produce legitimacy to enable the reproduction of authoritarian extractivism under the semblance of multiculturalism that responds to popular demands. The dialectical formation of a differentiated regime of “indigenous” property rights in Honduras helps us to understand how authoritarian populism is sustained by a contradictory nativist discourse. The promise of insulation from the “other” maintains a hierarchy that enables further dispossession and disfranchisement.

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