QUERY: Corruption in Latin America

Charles Savage's picture

Hello all,

I am currently researching corruption in Brazil during the 1964-85 dictatorship and I am having difficultires finding historical works that conceptualize corruption in the Latin America context. Alfonso Quiroz's Corrupt Circles: A History of Unbound Graft in Peru is the only work I've found that addresses corruption in Latin America in the late 20th century. If anybody has any suggestions to any other works that address corruption in Latin America in the 20th century, I'd greatly appreciate it.

C. G. Savage

It's quite old now but Walter Little & Eduardo Posada (eds.), Political Corruption in Europe and Latin America (NY: St Martin's Press, 1996), may have something of use. Much more has been written on theoretical and conceptual aspects of corruption since it was published, of course, but some of the case studies may be interesting.

Dear Charles,

You can also see:

ANDERS, Gerhard y Monique NUIJTEN, Corruption and the secret of law : a legal anthropological perspective, Aldershot, Inglaterra, Burlington, VT, Ashgate, 2007.

GUPTA, Akhil, "Blurred boundaries. The discourse of corruption, the culture of politics, and the imagined state”, American Ethnologist, May 1995, Vol.22(2), pp. 375-402.

LOMNITZ, Claudio (coord.) Vicios públicos, virtudes privadas. La corrupción en México, México, Ciesas, Miguel Ángel Porrúa, 2000.

NUIJTEN, Monique, Power, community and the state : the political anthropology of organisation in Mexico, London, Sterling, Va, Pluto, 2003.

UGARTECHE, Óscar (comp.), Vicios públicos. Poder y corrupción, Lima, SUR, Casa de Estudios del Socialismo, Fondo de Cultura Económica, pp. 57-80.

YANKELEVICH, Pablo, “Corrupción y gestión migratoria en el México posrevolucionario”, Aztlan: A Journal of Chicano Studies, 34 (1), Otoño, 2009, pp. 219-239.

__________________ Los otros. Raza, normas y corrupción en la gestión de la extranjería en México, 1900-1950, México, El Colegio de México, Bonilla Artigas Editores, Iberoamericana Vervuert, 2019.


Daniela Gleizer
Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas

Dear Charles,
have a look at this edited volume:
Christoph Rosenmüller and Stephan Ruderer (eds). “Dádivas, Dones, y Dinero:” Aportes a una nueva historia de la corrupción en América Latina, desde el imperio español hasta la modernidad. Frankfurt, Madrid: Vervuert Iberoamericana, 2016.

And perhaps even my own: Justice and Corruption in Colonial Mexico, 1650–1755. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019

Christoph Rosenmüller

Dear Charles, I would recommend:

_Corruption in Latin America_ by David Arellano-Gault, published by Routledge this year, its intended audience is the academic community outside of Latin America to elicit better theorization around corruption in the region. I have found it very helpful for my own work on road building in Mexico.

Mike Bess

Dear Charles,

The works below do not all refer to Latin America specifically, but the concepts are useful for working on 20th century Latin America.

Sarah Muir and Akhil Gupta, “Rethinking the Anthropology of Corruption,” Current Anthropology vol. 59, Supplement 18, April 2018, pp. S4-S14.

Ronald Kroeze, André Vitória and G. Geltner, eds., Anticorruption in History: From Antiquity to the Modern Era (Oxford University Press, 2018). This volume has no essay specifically on Latin America, but the concepts are certainly transferrable; the introduction and the essay by Jens Ivo Engels are especially helpful.

Elitza Katarova, The Social Construction of Global Corruption: From Utopia to Neoliberalism (Palgrave/Macmillan, 2019). Important for the 1970s and later periods.

Gjalt de Graaf, Pieter Wagenaar and Michel Hoenderboom, ‘Constructing Corruption’, in Gjalt de Graaf, Patrick von Maravic, and Pieter Wagenaar (eds.), The Good Cause: Theoretical Perspectives on Corruption (Farmington Hills, MI: Barbara Budrich Publishers, 2010), pp. 98-114.

Daniel C. Bach, “Patrimonialism and Neopatrimonialism: Comparative Receptions and Transcriptions,” in Neopatrimonialism in Africa and Beyond, eds. Daniel C. Bach and Mamoudou Gazibo (New York: Routledge, 2012), pp. 25-45. (This volume also includes an essay on contemporary Brazil.)

Gero Erdmann and Ulf Engel, “Neopatrimonialism Reconsidered: Critical Review and Elaboration of an Elusive Concept,” Commonwealth & Comparative Politics, vol. 45, no. 1 (2007), pp. 95-119.

Michael Johnston, “The Definitions Debate: Old Conflicts in New Guises,” in Arvind K. Jain, ed., The Political Economy of Corruption (London and New York: Routledge, 2001), pp. 11-31.

Leslie Holmes, Corruption: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2015). Includes a good bibliographical essay, though oriented more toward the social sciences than history.

Best wishes,
Doug Yarrington
Colorado State University

Thank you everybody for the suggestions, I do appreciate it! Archival documents from the military government suggest that they are stamping out corporate forms of corruption (favoritism, kickbacks, insider exchange of funds, etc.), but it is hard to decipher if this is legitimate concern for corporate corruption or a form of political suppression or another form of control.

C. G. Savage
University of Mississippi