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Latin America possesses an enormously rich constitutional history, but this legal history has only recently begun to be subjected to scholarly inquiry.
As Roberto Gargarella contends, contemporary constitutional and political theory has a great deal to learn from this history, as Latin American constitutionalism has endured unique challenges that have not appeared in other regions.
Such challenges include the emergence of egalitarian constitutions in inegalitarian contexts; deliberation over the value of "importing" foreign legal instruments; a long-standing exercise of socio-economic rights (which is only just starting in other areas of the world); issues of multiculturalism and indigenous rights; substantial experience with "unbalanced" versions of the system of "checks and balances" (due to the presence of so-called hyper-presidentialist regimes); and the succession of numerous and frequent constitutional changes.
In this landmark book, Gargarella provides a broadly comparative history of Latin American constitutionalism, informed by constitutional theory. He organizes the book across four major historical periods of Latin American legal history, infusing this history with a discussion of the ideas of thinkers including Juan Bautista Alberdi, Francisco Bilbao, Simon Bolivar; Juan Egana, Jose Gonzalez Vigil, Victorino Lastarria, Juan Carlos Mariategui, Juan Montalvo, Jose Maria Mora, Mariano Otero, Manuel Murillo Toro, Jose Maria Samper and Domingo Sarmiento.