Implementing Multiculturalism: The Governance of Indigenous Land Claims in Argentina
Matthias vom Hau (IBEI)
Over the last decades, multiculturalism has become crucial global policy norm with real symbolic power across the globe, and scholars vigorously debate the implications of this shift. Yet, how are the new multicultural rights put into practice? Especially in the global south, the blueprints provided by multiculturalism often have very little to do with the actual exercise of those group-specific rights. In fact, the substantive consequences of multiculturalism, whether with respect to conflict, political inclusion, or human wellbeing, can only be assessed if variations in its implementation are properly understood. This paper brings a subnational perspective to bear and explores the implementation of multicultural rights in Argentina. Specifically, the focus is on the survey of the territories claimed by indigenous peoples, a necessary first step towards the application of indigenous communal land rights granted in the recent constitutional reform. While the survey is mandated by the national state, its actual implementation falls under the jurisdiction of the 23 Argentine provinces. And provinces have handled the survey very differently. Some rapidly documented the land claims of indigenous communities, in others the survey has turned into a highly contested process yet to be completed, while yet another set of provinces rejected its implementation out of hand. The paper engages with a variety of different theoretical perspectives to develop and test a number of different hypotheses. Based on a combination of fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) and comparative case studies we identify a variety of alternate causal pathways—expedient implementation, preemptive implementation, contentious implementation, and blocked implementation—to account for this striking variation in land survey implementation.
Matthias vom Hau is an Associate Professor and Ramón y Cajal Researcher at the Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals (IBEI). A sociologist by training, he has a PhD (2007) from Brown University and previously held a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Manchester. He has also been a visiting researcher at Princeton University, the Freie Universität and the Humboldt Universität in Berlin, the Universidad de San Martín (UNSAM) and Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO) in Buenos Aires, the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), and the Instituto de Estudios Peruanos (IEP) in Lima.
Matthias’ work is centrally concerned with the relationship between identity politics, institutions, and development, with a comparative-historical focus on Latin America. He has published widely on how states construct a sense of national belonging, how civil society actors negotiate and contest official nationalisms, and the extent to which ordinary citizens subscribe to official and counter-state identity projects. A second line of research explores the long-run developmental consequences of state formation in Latin America, while his third line of work is equally historical and corrects for the fundamentally ahistorical approach that underpins the supposedly negative relationship between ethnic diversity and public goods provision. His most recent research investigates the rise and consequences of indigenous movements in Latin America and beyond.