Saturday, January 30, 2021

Come! Alicia Barcenas´s second lecture on our Climate Change and the Challenges of Development Series

The Oxford Department of International Development will host Alicia Barcena, Executive Secretary of ECLAC on Friday 5 February at 5pm to discuss "The Climate Emergency in Latin America: Threats and Opportunities for Sustainable Development".  It will be a great opportunity to learn more about ECLAC´s leading work on the subject and innovative thinking about the relations between development, inequalities and environmental sustainability.  You can sign up for the event here

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Looking to hire a post-doc for project of labor formalization

 We are starting a new project that will explore how to promote formalization in the mining sector, with particular attention to the case study of Peruvian gold.  It should be an exciting opportunity to link academic research and policy impact.  We have raised funds to hire a post-doc with experience in qualitative research, willingness to spend time in Peru and interest in policy discussions.  Please either apply or invite others to apply!  You can find more details here

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

More on my new book

Bloomsbury has kindly giving me access to the first few pages of my new book to share with everyone.  You can access them here; I hope you can read it and send me comments.  

The book is in both hardcover for libraries and paperback for those of you who may find it interesting.  I would really appreciate if you can distribute these details around!

Here you have some of the endorsements:

"A compelling case for the urgency of tackling inequality, in Latin America and the world, without falling into the temptation of a silver-bullet approach. Thanks to Diego's insightful book, we now have a better understanding of the policies, politics and history of Latin American inequality. This book will be useful to succeed in the battle against social injustice in the region." --Rebeca Grynspan, Ibero-American Secretary General

"This book, by one of the best experts on inequalities and social policies in Latin America... is a must read in an era of rising global inequality, which is only becoming worse with the COVID-19 pandemic" -- José Antonio Ocampo (Columbia University, former Under-Secretary General of the UN)

"This is an excellent work on the complexities of inequality in Latin America and the lessons we can learn from ideas, social movements, and policies developed in middle income countries to reduce income and wealth inequality. This very important book is a must-read both for scholars of development studies and Latin American politics as well as for practitioners seeking to reduce inequality in developing and developed economies." --Dr Néstor Castañeda, University College London

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

My upcoming book

My new book is coming out in December.  I wrote it primarily during my year at the Kellogg Institute in Notre Dame and I am very thankful to them for the opportunity.  The book uses the Latin American experience to warn against the economic, political and social costs of inequality in other parts of the world.  It also discusses some of the ways in which Latin Americans have tried to fight inequality and some of the policies and institutions we need to develop in the future.  Although I will discuss more about the book in future entries, I just wanted to share my excitement about the news... at a time when I am finding hard to get excited about many other things.

You can find the link to the book in Bloomsbury here

Saturday, April 18, 2020

A progressive future... or an opportunity for the radical right?

Let me here start a discussion that I hope to develop further in the future.  In recent weeks, many progressive academics and even journalists, politicians and/or policymakers have begun framing the current pandemic as a window of opportunity for a more humane and progressive development model. 

Here just a couple of examples.  First an article from the New Yorker about Bernie Sanders:

"To be sure, the Democratic Party’s embrace of equalizing economics remains a partial one, but the cataclysmic impact of the coronavirus could conceivably generate more political pressure to rebalance the economy. As the C.E.O.s, bankers, hedge-fund managers, and private-equity partners have retreated to their second homes, the shelf stockers, grocery clerks, subway conductors, bus drivers, delivery workers, nurses, doctors, E.M.S. workers, hospital orderlies, and public-health officials have emerged as indispensable gallants. Without their contribution, it turns out, there would be no functioning society to generate the rewards enjoyed by the overclass."

"Other major global crises, such as climate change and biodiversity loss, demand cooperative global responses that don't leave out the poor. Once COVID-19 is under control, the world cannot return to business as usual. A thorough review of worldviews, lifestyles, and the problems of short-term economic valuation must be carried out. A more responsible, more sharing, more caring, more inclusive, and fairer society is required if we are to survive in the Anthropocene."

I fully agree that the crisis has revealed many weaknesses of the way we organize society: the costs of poverty and inequality, the lack of effective international collaboration, the need to strengthen local communities, the lack of proper attention to key workers.  The pandemic also proves many social-democratic ideas right: the importance of public services, the need to have a proper safety net, the central role of the state.  

Yet we run the risk of assuming that these are obvious facts and that most people will feel like we do. But will this really be the case?  Will people who have been in lockdown alone or with their families feel part of a larger community?  Will they have appetite for a revolution?  How will they respond to the lack of jobs, to huge uncertainty about the future? 

Maybe what most people end up supporting is a return to some kind of normality; just life as it was.  Maybe many others keep hoping for easy solutions and clear scapegoats, ending up supporting the radical right.  Let´s not forget that this is what happened in many countries after the Great Depression in 1929.

Of course, politics will matter--as my friend Ben Phillips argues here in an otherwise much more optimistic perspective than mine.  Different countries will go in different directions.  There will be agency from social movements and political parties to influence the agenda.  But I think we need to pay much more attention than we are doing to two issues:

1. How can we convince people that this is the time for progressive idea?  How can we do it in a way that is constructive and does not polarize?  Surely we cannot have faith in most politicians doing the job for us!

2. How can we understand and prepare for the real risk that a very dark kind of politics emerge out of all of this?  

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Religious leaders against inequality

The Archbishop of Canterbury on Eastern Sunday:

“The next wave coming is the economic one … We have a choice there as a nation and as a society and as a world. Do we take hold of our destiny and make sure the differences are mitigated, abolished where possible – or do we just let things happen, do we let the market rule, in which case there will be enormous suffering.”

Will religious leaders make a difference?  Will the fight against inequality become more accepted thanks in religious circles?  Surely people like Justin Welby and Pope Francis are trying... and let's only hope their followers are listening.