G. Eduardo Silva
Professor - Lydian Chair of Political Science


At its core my research focuses on state-society relations and the politics of policy change. A core question that runs through most of my work could be summed up as follows. Under what conditions do authorities either implement policies that address the needs of relatively powerless marginalized subaltern groups or continue to uphold policies that exploit them? I generally apply a political economy framework to social coalition building where explanation stresses competing coalitions that stress alternative policy preferences.

Although my first project focused on business elites, it applied a social coalition argument to explain Chile’s shift from an import substitution to a market driven economic development model, as well as adjustments to latter during the military government (1973-1990). I argued that in addition to dictatorship and a core of market fundamentalist technocrats (the Chicago Boys) shifting coalitions of capitalists were also a necessary condition. This project yielded several articles and culminated in my first book, The State and Capital In Chile (1996).

I then turned to researching issues in environment and development with a focus on forest policy and environmental institution building. Although a book did not materialize, the research yielded a strong series of articles between 1994 and 2004.

In forest policy, I compared Chile, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Venezuela. I was interested in uncovering conditions that favored adoption of competing models of sustainable development, a market-driven interpretation and an alternative model more firmly rooted in ecology and community and that took the social equity component of sustainable development seriously. In addition to forest policy I also analyzed the construction of state environmental institutions in Chile after the dictatorship.

Since then my work has focused more directly on the relationship of social mobilization to policy change. Challenging Neoliberalism in Latin America (2009) was an explanation for the emergence of anti-market fundamentalist mobilization in the late 1990s and early 2000s in Latin America. I was interested in uncovering the factors that explained how a heterogeneous landscape of subaltern social groups gradually coalesced in cycles of mass mobilization that brought down governments in Argentina Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela and helped usher in left governments.

This book led to a collaborative follow-up effort to research the extent to which the politically marginalized social movement organizations that had led anti-neoliberal struggles were incorporated in the political arena in the left governments they had helped to power. Based on a conference held at the Center for Inter-American Policy and Research, the work yielded a co-edited volume titled Reshaping the Political Arena in Latin America (2018), along with a solo article explaining these outcomes in Politics and Society (2017). I am currently working on a book length version of that article.

A research project to explain the policy consequences of social movements and contentious action (protest and more institutionalized activities) rounds out my current work. To this end, with the institutional support of Tulane’s Center for Inter-American and Policy Research (CIPR), an interdisciplinary, cross-regional team of scholars founded Research Group MEGA (RGM). RGM investigates the policy consequences of social mobilization against mega extractive development projects in Latin America. Our work is published in a CIPR working paper series and a special issue of the European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, 100 (July-December) 2018.


  • B.F.A., University of Texas at Austin, 1977
  • M.A., New York University, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, 1983
  • Ph.D., University of California, San Diego, Political Science, 1991

Academic Experience

  • Professor, Tulane University, 2010-
  • Visiting Researcher, Center for Latin American Research and Documentation, Amsterdam University, June-August 2015
  • Visiting Distinguished Scholar, National University Ireland, Maynooth, May 2015
  • Professor, University of Missouri, St. Louis, 2002-2010
  • Associate Professor, University of Missouri, St. Louis, 1997-2002
  • Assistant Professor, University of Missouri, St. Louis, 1991-1997


  • Fulbright Senior Specialist Scholar, 2011
  • Center for International Studies, UM St. Louis, Research Award, 2007, 2006, 2002, 2001, 2000
  • Research Award, University of Missouri-St. Louis, “The Politics of Sustainable Development: Forest Policy in Latin America,” 1996
  • Senior Research Associate Fellowship, North-South Center, “Broad-Based Sustainable Development and Forest Policy in Chile,” 1996
  • Advanced Research Award, Social Science Research Council, “The Politics of Sustainable Development: Native Forest Policy in Latin America,” 1995


  • Spanish
  • German

Related Experience

  • Advisory Board Member: “Latin American States and Bureaucracies Research Programme,” Universidad Andina, Simón Bolívar, Quito, Ecuador, 2017-
  • Scientific Advisory Board, Center for Conflict and Cohesion Studies, Santiago, Chile, 2014-
  • Member, Global Development Network’s “Global Research Capacity Building Program,” 2012-2016
  • Member, Advisory Board, “Environmental Governance in Latin America and the Caribbean: Developing Frameworks for Sustainable and Equitable Natural Resource Use,” Center for Documentation and Research on Latin America at the University of Amsterdam, 2010-
  • Chair, Department of Political Science, University of Missouri, St. Louis, 2007-2010
  • Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Political Science, University of Missouri, St. Louis, 2002-2007
  • Editorial Board, Center for Research and Documentation on Latin America book series, Brill publishers, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2006-
  • Consultant, Inter-American Development Bank, 2011
  • Editorial Board, Latin American Politics and Society, University of Miami, 2000-

Selected Publications

  • 2018. From Resistance to Neoliberalism to the Second Wave of Incorporation: Comparative Perspectives on Reshaping the Political Arena. With Federico M. Rossi. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.
  • 2017. “Reorganizing Popular Incorporation in Latin America: Propositions from Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela,” Politics and Society 45(1): 91-122.
  • 2016. “Patagonia without Dams! Lessons from a David vs. Goliath Campaign,” Extractive Industries and Society, 3: 947-57.
  • 2015. “Social Movements, Protest, and Policy,” European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, No. 100, 27-39.
  • 2013. Transnational Activism and National Movements in Latin America: Bridging the Divide. New York: Routledge.
  • 2012. “Exchange Rising? Karl Polanyi and Contentious Politics in Latin America,” Latin American Politics and Society, 54, 3: 1-32.
  • 2009. Challenging Neoliberalism in Latin America. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • 1996. The State and Capital in Chile: Business Elites, Technocrats, and Market Economics. Boulder: Westview Press.
  • 1986. Elections and Democratization in Latin America, 1980-85. Co-editor with Paul W. Drake. San Diego: Center for Latin American Studies; Center for U.S.-Mexico Studies; Institute of the Americas.

Recently-Taught Latin American-Related Courses:

Number of Dissertations or Theses Supervised in the Past 5 Years: