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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award

Spring 2016

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Lopez, A. Ricardo, 1974-

Second Advisor

Leonard, Kevin Allen, 1964-

Third Advisor

Spira, Tamara Lea


I explore the relationship between Ecuador’s purported disengagement with neoliberalism in 2008, and the simultaneous inclusion of select indigenous knowledge in official state discourse. Focusing on the political space created for indigenous intellectuals, I examine how peasant groups are re-subalternized by claims to have solved the “indigenous question.” I analyze how market relations of power produce new discourses of equal opportunity, as well as new identities (“consumers” and “producers”), and seeks to educate their desires across the class spectrum to cultivate consent for vastly unequal distributions of power. I argue this hegemony is re/produced by a broader demographic than generally acknowledged: not just elites, but subaltern groups as well.

Using Ecuador as a case study, my research offers an alternative understanding of how neoliberalism works. Dominant narratives explain the ideology using predominantly political and economic categories of analysis, describing it as a repressive force that privileges elite class projects to accumulate wealth at the expense of society at large. While I agree that neoliberalism exacerbates economic inequalities, I find that political-economic analyses fall short of explaining why hierarchies shaped by market relations of power retain legitimacy despite political revolution and change. I argue that neoliberalism works by allowing subaltern groups to create limited space for themselves through appropriation of market discourses and identities, while simultanesouly excluding the “unproductive” aspects of their subalterneity. I explore how neoliberalism educates the desires of diversely classed groups to maintain its legitimacy as a social, cultural, and political ideology.





Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Ecuador--Politics and government--1984-; Ecuador--History--1984-; Social movements--Ecuador; Indigenous peoples--Ecuador--Politics and government; Neoliberalism--Ecuador; Cultural pluralism--Ecuador; Hegemony--Ecuador

Geographic Coverage





masters theses




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