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Latin American Institutions


Understanding the institutional trajectory of Latin American development

London School of Economics and Political Science, 27-28September, 2012

Convenor: Alejandra Irigoin (LSE Economic History)

Sponsored by LSE Annual Fund, The Economic History Society, & LSE Economic History.

Economists and political scientists have recently focused increasing attention on "How and why history matters for development policy" (Woolcock et al, WB 2010). Ironically, however, most historians of Latin America have moved the furthest possible away from these debates which should ideally contribute to better train scholars and policy makers involved in current development of Latin America.

The aim of the current workshop is to revise the idea of 'why (Latin American) nations fail' (Acemoglou & Robinson 2012) and explore possible analytical avenues to refine the understanding of the region's institutional development and history to offer a reaction to the institutionalist 'turn' which impregnates most of the current research in economics and development.

The workshop is an attempt to reach out to a variety of research programmes which are dealing with similar boundaries in their fields: a characterization of Latin American institutions which serves more as a template to approach developments elsewhere, most often North America, than as a satisfactory framework on which to build an analytical interpretation of the region.

Following up on the academic exchange that began at Columbia in March 2011 this venue seeks to engage historians of the early modern and modern period together with political scientists, political economists, economic historians and development economists for a mutual exchange focused on reciprocal comparisons - over time and across fields of expertise – to further enrich the analytical qualities of each one’s approach. The aim is to push the envelope about the origin, persistence and performance of Latin American institutions, to transcend the negative characterizations and paradoxical narratives of persistent failure that feature Latin American long run development.