Market Promises: Origins and Hegemony of Neoliberal Economic Imagination in Peru, 1945–2000

Stephan Gruber

Peru underwent a radical transformation of its political economy in the 1990s, starting an enduring neoliberal regime. How did neoliberalism gain such hegemony in Peru? As this transformation was part of the so-called Washington Consensus liberalization of Latin America, the literature mostly explains it as overdetermined by the international economic and political context that made the pursuit of progressive policies unsustainable and diffused liberal ideational blueprints which empowered the business class. This dissertation project, in contrast, will show how neoliberal hegemony in Peru is an outcome of a longer historical process with many internal drivers, where a creative translation of neoliberal ideas – that combined technocratic de-politization with populist promises – transformed the economic imagination of what was deemed politically possible. This transformation will be explained by combining approaches from intellectual history, political economy, and sociology of knowledge in order to follow the embeddedness of ideas in social and power relations. Using a qualitative methodology and combining extensive archival work and interviews, the project will study the institutional realms where the economic imagination was built and circulated: universities, think tanks, and political parties.

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