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Voices of Latin America – social movements and the new activism

edited by Tom Gatehouse


This is a book of many voices (more than 70 of them, from 14 different countries): of anthropologists and archaeologists; urban planners and architects; artists and musicians; journalists and politicians; women and LGBT people trying to halt gender-based oppression and violence; indigenous activists fighting oil drilling on their territory; residents of favelas resisting evictions; students staking their claim to a free, universal, and high-quality education; and many more. What do these voices tell us? Almost all of our interviews were conducted between 2016 and 2018 and they testify to an extremely sensitive and uncertain moment in the history of Latin America. The so-called pink tide of more or less socially progressive governments that came to power across the region in the late 1990s and early 2000s is in retreat. Popular faith in democracy has been shaken; traditional political parties and institutions have stagnated. And yet autonomous social movements have multiplied and thrived. They tell us the stories of the major issues, conflicts and campaigns for social justice in the region today, in the words of the protagonists of these movements themselves.

The Launch

Voices of Latin America was launched at a grand fiesta, ‘¡Viva La Resistencia!’, at Rich Mix, Shoreditch, London from 7:00 pm. You can see a video of the launch here. It is being launched in the US at The People’s Forum, New York, on Thursday 16 May, 6:30 – 8:30pm. Voices editor Tom Gatehouse will speak at the meeting. The US edition is being co-published by Monthly Review Press. Details here.

The Themes

The book is in 11 chapters, each weaving the voices of diverse social movement activists, recounting their experiences of campaigning, struggle, oppression and hope:
  1. Introduction: living life on their own terms
  2. Fighting machismo: women on the front line
  3. LGBT rights: the rainbow tide
  4. The student revolution
  5. Indigenous peoples and the rights of nature
  6. The hydroelectric threat to the Amazon basin
  7. Mining and communities
  8. State violence, policing, and paramilitaries
  9. Spaces of everyday resistance: the right to the city
  10. The new journalism: now the people make the news
  11. Cultural resistance

The authors

Tom Gatehouse, editor and co-author, is a writer and translator who has lived in Argentina, Spain and Brazil. He holds an MPhil in Latin American Studies from the University of Cambridge. He has written for LAB and Red Pepper and his translations have appeared in Folha de S. Paulo, Agência Pública and Tales and Trails Lisbon, a recent collection of short stories and other writings. He lives in London. Chapter authors: Sue Branford, Antonia Burchard-Levine, Marilene Cardoso Ribeiro, Linda Etchart, Tom Gatehouse, Mike Gatehouse, Emily Gregg,  Louise Morris, Ali Rocha

The website

Alongside the book is a website which, after the book is published, will continue to gather additional material for each chapter: references, videos, further reports and interviews, reader comment and further news from our ‘voices’.

What leading Latin America experts have said about this book

This is a wonderful X ray of modern Latin America, a vision of the continent’s struggles and potential futures through the eyes of its social movement leaders and intellectuals. Read it from end to end, whether as an introduction or an update, or mine it for quotes from inspirational figures across the region on a range of contemporary issues. Latin America (or most of it) has come to the end of its progressive ‘pink tide’ years of the early 2000s. For the coming years, social movements will provide the grains of resistance and future directions. Tom Gatehouse has assembled an unparalleled set of views and insights from the leaders and intellectuals of that movement.’ Dr. Duncan Green, Senior Strategic Adviser, Oxfam Voices of Latin America is a gem… The introductory essay lays out the political terrain for readers unfamiliar with contemporary Latin American politics and social activism. The format of organizing interview excerpts around ten themes allows for comparisons across themes and across fourteen countries. Activists everywhere will find much to learn from this readable text. Louise Fortmann Professor Emerita of Natural Resource Sociology, University of California at Berkeley Voices of Latin America is a very distinct sort of book. While it deals with the types of issue that one might expect to encounter in other textbooks or pieces of investigative journalism on Latin American politics and social change, it addresses these themes primarily through the words of the people who live them. The key voices in this collection are not those of the authors or the editor but rather of the seventy or so people who were interviewed in the course of preparing the book. Here the reader listens to activists, community authorities, public intellectuals, popular journalists, NGO workers and movement leaders as they talk of issues about which they care passionately and that affect their everyday lives and being. Anthony Bebbington, Higgins Professor of Environment and Society, Graduate School of Geography, Clark University, MA, USA

Published by LAB and Practical Action Publishing, 18 January 2019 ISBN: 9781953399565 Cover Price £19.95. Available at a discount price of £18.95 from US edition: from Monthly Review press. Details here.

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