1st Edition

The Politics of Political Science Re-Writing Latin American Experiences

By Paulo Ravecca Copyright 2019
    292 Pages
    by Routledge

    292 Pages
    by Routledge

    In this thought-provoking book, Paulo Ravecca presents a series of interlocking studies on the politics of political science in the Americas.

    Focusing mainly on the cases of Chile and Uruguay, Ravecca employs different strands of critical theory to challenge the mainstream narrative about the development of the discipline in the region, emphasizing its ideological aspects and demonstrating how the discipline itself has been shaped by power relations. Ravecca metaphorically charts the (non-linear) transit from “cold” to “warm” to “hot” intellectual temperatures to illustrate his—alternative—narrative. Beginning with a detailed quantitative study of three regional academic journals, moving to the analysis of the role of subjectivity (and political trauma) in academia and its discourse in relation to the dictatorships in Chile and Uruguay, and arriving finally at an intimate meditation on the experience of being a queer scholar in the Latin American academy of the 21st century, Ravecca guides his readers through differing explorations, languages, and methods.

    The Politics of Political Science: Re-Writing Latin American Experiences offers an essential reflection on both the relationship between knowledges and politics and the political and ethical role of the scholar today, demonstrating how the study of the politics of knowledge deepens our understanding of the politics of our times.

    Introduction: The Politics of Political Science in Latin America

    Outline of the Book

    Works Cited


    Chapter 1Power, Knowledge, and Complex Relationality: Theory and Method

    PPS’ Strategy for (Disciplinary) Self-Reflection


    Works Cited


    Chapter 2When Political Science was Authoritarian: Chile 1979-1989 (COLD)

    Institutionalized Transition: Towards a Protected Democracy

    RCP, or the Meaning of Silence

    A Re-Founding Trilogy: Protected Democracy, Market Economy, and Private Property

    Saving the West: Culture, Christianity, and Internationalization

    Academic Training, Law, Meaning(s), Terror

    Conclusion: The Banality of Institutionalization

    Works Cited


    Chapter 3From Revolution to Transition: The Making of a Conformist Academia in Uruguay and Beyond (?) (WARM)

    Framing the Uruguayan Case: Historical Overview or the Politics of Timing

    Dictatorship, Transition, and Trauma

    Rethinking Epic Narrative(s): Private Research Centers During the Dictatorship – Resistance...Through Neo-liberalization?

    The Limits of Pluralism: Identity-Building, Epistemological Policing, and the Shadows of Marx

    Appropriating Carlos Real de Azúa: Teleology and Destiny

    Narrative Power(s): Storytelling and the Delineation of the Disciplinary Self

    Objectivity and Romance: Uruguayan Political Science and Liberal Democracy

    The Limits of Conformism? State-Centrism and the Containment of Market Utopias (with a Note on Secularism)

    Concluding Remarks: Complex Relationality and Liberal Unthinking

    Works Cited


    Chapter 4Doing Research, from Fortress to Intimacy (HOT)

    Looking for a Perspective

    Whose Dictatorship(s)?

    PS' Positivist Masculinity and Straightness

    Love for PS and its Complicated Temporalities and Geographies

    PS for PS

    Horror in the Body of Thought: Undoing Harm

    Works Cited



    Chapter 5The Temperatures of Thinking and Politics: An Assemblage of Critical Theories and a Problematizing Re-Inscription of Political Science

    Liberal Unthinking and the Epistemological Desaparecidos of 1990s Latin America

    Chile and Uruguay: Traces of a Comparative Politics of Political Science

    Complex Relationality at Work: A Radical Alternative to Mainstream Tales

    Whose Theory? Sustaining Thinking, Protecting (Self-) Reflection

    Works Cited





    Paulo Ravecca is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the Universidad de la República, Uruguay, where he researches epistemology and the history of political science; critical theories (queer, neo-marxist, postcolonial, and poststructural approaches); political economy and international relations; and gender and sexuality. He is an associate editor of the Journal of Narrative Politics and Crítica Contemporánea. Revista de Teoría Política. He holds a PhD in Political Science from York University.

    "I confess, I've given too little thought to how each countries' politics have shaped what we think of - and what we DO in - political science. By taking me on this fascinating journey into the politics of political science of Chile and Uruguay, Paulo Ravecca has made me acutely aware of the distinctive politics of our field in every country - including my own!"

    Cynthia Enloe, author of The Big Push: Exploring and Challenging the Persistencies of Patriarchy

    "The study of power is itself a political enterprise. But rarely have the tools of critical theory been deployed on political science itself. This is what makes The Politics of Political Science such a bold, timely and important work. Paulo Ravecca lays bare the power relations at work in the very formation of political science in the Americas. And he is daring enough to offer a critical ethnography of his own formation as a political scientist. The result is a stunningly original achievement. Not only does Ravecca tell us something profoundly new about one of the most established disciplines in the social sciences - he also lets us see power relations themselves in ways we never before saw them. This is a truly important book."

    David McNally, Cullen Distinguished Professor of History, University of Houston

    "Very moving and a masterpiece."

    Terrell Carver, Professor of Political Theory, University of Bristol

    "A book that, from its rigor and canonic knowledge, opens pathways that become inexorable for our times."

    Manuel Alcántara Sáez, Universidad de Salamanca

    "… to learn from this book's enormous value one does not need to agree with all of the author´s approaches or conclusions. For many reasons, Paulo Ravecca’s work should be welcomed. It reveals a powerful, original and courageous researcher, who brings talents and perspectives that will undoubtedly make great contributions to the disciplines of the social sciences in this continent and the world."

    Gerardo Caetano, University of the Republic, Uruguay

    "Because of Ravecca’s capacity to inhabit opposing methodological and epistemological registers, while also putting them into relationships in unexpected and creative ways, this book constitutes a treasure, particularly valuable for those who manage to find it and thus themselves, or get lost productively within it."

    Diego Rossello, Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez, Chile

    "On various occasions, I projected what I was reading onto an imaginary classroom; in part because spaces of teaching are present throughout the pages of this book, which explore the potential of teaching for critique and for the construction of alternatives. As Ravecca states, the classroom is where research comes to life and in turn can stage the future of the discipline. Perhaps for that reason the image was recurring: because this is a book that looks upon the future. And in doing so, gives a new language to Political Science to re-think the political and thus to reflect upon itself."

    Civitas, Revista de Ciências Sociais

    "Paulo Ravecca’s book is challenging, dynamic, and thought-provoking, sparking questions and reflections within many areas of research and politics. This makes it a book with unlimited potential to stimulate and nourish research in a diverse array of matters beyond those specifically approached by it. It engages the reader – front and centre – with a stark political message: anyone can be oppressive, and oppression can happen in the name of anything."

    Brazilian Political Science Review

    "After concluding the inspiring work by Paulo Ravecca, the opening of Marx’s The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon comes to mind: "Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce." The farce reproduced by history remains an inverted, grotesque and ridiculous tragedy, but that does not make it less painful. As I write these notes, the Minister of Education from Bolsonaro’s government in Brazil declares that his aim is to disinvest in the country’ public universities and their areas of Philosophy and Sociology, a first step towards the demolition of the critical thinking and the fundamental freedoms necessary for a democracy to take place. Ravecca has shown that there is no one single path to the destruction of our civic coexistence and that these deviations leave scars on bodies and collective imaginaries. It is our task to expose the farces, shatter the concave mirrors that reproduce monstrosities, and unmask the tragedy of today so the ghosts of the past do not come back to life again."

    Las Torres de Lucca, International Journal of Political Philosophy

    "There is undoubtedly a lot of methodological boldness in the analytical exercise undertaken by the researcher, be it for the challenging argument he raises against the mainstream of contemporary political science and its triumphalist discourse, or for the way he appropriates his analytical tools throughout the text, incorporating in the analysis a set of elements that are often ignored by hegemonic political science: the dimensions of subjectivity, affect, discourse, and researcher’s personal experience. A provocative study that does not care at any time for any type of theoretical or methodological monism".

    Revista Brasileira de Ciência Política 

    "The Politics of Political Science. Re-Writing Latin American Experiencies is one of the most important books in political science – and on its disciplinary history – in the 21st century so far."

    Análisis Político