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Beyond Populism and Liberal Institutions: Pueblos' Defense of Grounded Communities as Planetary Democracy

Beyond Populism and Liberal Institutions: Pueblos

A discussion with Paulina Ochoa Espejo, Professor of Political Science, Haverford College

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In the last decades, conflict over natural resources, particularly water, has increased all over Latin America. This conflict implicitly poses the question: Who should have rights to territory? This paper shows that the main ideologies of the day – populism and liberal institutionalism—cannot fully answer the question of territorial rights in times of climate change; yet pueblos (a form of grounded community) provide an interesting alternative answer. In doing so, pueblos’ defense of water and territory points the way towards a different practice and justification of politics in terms of place-specific obligations: planetary democracy.



Paulina Ochoa Espejo is the William Penn Foundation Professor and Professor of Political Science at Haverford College. She works on borders and territorial rights from the perspectives of democratic theory, comparative political theory, and the history of political thought. She is the author of On Borders: Territories, Legitimacy, and the Rights of Place (Oxford University Press, 2020), The Time of Popular Sovereignty: Process and the Democratic State (Penn State University Press, 2011), and co–editor of the Oxford Handbook of Populism (Oxford University Press, 2017).  



Tejas Parasher is Assistant Professor of Political Theory in the Department of Political Science and at the UCLA International Institute. His research focuses on the subfield of comparative political thought, examining the institutional and historiographical questions involved in writing global histories of democracy and popular sovereignty. His first book, Radical Democracy in Modern Indian Political Thought, is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press. Prior to joining UCLA, Tejas was Junior Research Fellow in Political Thought and Intellectual History at the University of Cambridge. He received his PhD in Political Science from the University of Chicago in 2019 and his BA Hons. (High Distinction) from the University of Toronto in 2013. Tejas is a recipient of the American Political Science Association’s 2020 Leo Strauss Award for Best Dissertation in Political Philosophy and the University of Chicago’s 2015 Joseph Cropsey Prize in Political Philosophy.