Exclusionary Democracy: How Ethnoracial Hierarchies Threaten Democratic Citizenship


Across Latin America, formal democracies exist alongside profound ethnoracial hierarchies. This project argues that systemic ethnoracial exclusion threatens democratic citizenship by undermining democratic legitimacy, inhibiting egalitarian policy support, and promoting withdrawal from conventional politics. Previous research gives us good reason to expect that ethnoracial exclusion would provoke disenchantment among marginalized individuals who see democratic governments as failing to perform effectively on their behalf. The major innovation here is in theorizing and then providing empirical evidence that privileged group members also react to ethnoracial exclusion in undemocratic and inegalitarian ways. Additionally, I advance a framework that specifies how group consciousness conditions the ways ethnoracial hierarchies shape democratic citizenship among Indigenous and Afro-descendant Latin Americans specifically. Evidence from cross-national surveys, in-depth case studies, interviews with Indigenous and Black activists in Peru, and original survey experiments shows how ethnoracial hierarchies produce a cascade of outcomes harmful to Latin American democracies.