Guerrilla Auditors is an ethnographic account of the rise of information, transparency, and good governance in the post–Cold War era, and the effects of these concepts on Paraguay’s transition to democracy. Kregg Hetherington shows that the ideal of transparent information, meant to depoliticize bureaucratic procedures, has become a battleground for a new kind of politics centered on legal interpretation and the manipulation of official documents. In late-twentieth-century Paraguay, peasant land politics moved unexpectedly from the roads and fields into the documentary recesses of state bureaucracy. When peasants, bureaucrats, and development experts encountered one another in state archives, conflicts ensued about how bureaucracy ought to function, what documents are for, and who gets to narrate the past and the future of the nation. Hetherington argues that Paraguay’s neoliberal democracy is predicated, at least in part, on an exclusionary distinction between model citizens and peasants. Despite this, peasant activists have found ways to circumvent their exclusion and in so doing question the conceptual foundations of international development orthodoxy.
"After more than four decades of authoritarian rule by General Alfredo Stroessner, Paraguay's transition to democracy began in 1989. As occurred in many parts of the world in that year, Paraguay post-1989 embraced a new globally-informed style of governance that celebrated 'transparency' as a marker of modernity and democratic openness. Guerrilla auditors tells the story of this democratic transition through the lens of Paraguay's campesino movement and its struggle with large soybean producers for land... Combining shrewd political analysis, compassionate ethnography and a deft command of social theory, Guerrilla auditors is a path-breaking portrait of the contested meanings of democracy and transparency under neoliberalism." - Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale 21.3 August 2013 "Guerrilla Auditors is the most exciting book I've read on neoliberal reform in the global south. It changes how social scientists will look at documents and study land reform, populism, and peasants. The argument is brilliant and original, and the combination of ethnography and theory is superb. The book shows why ethnography matters." Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, co-editor of Words in Motion: Toward a Global Lexicon "Understanding that property and the neo-liberal project of transparency rest on 'paperwork,' Kregg Hetherington brilliantly de-constructs the politics of paperwork. His astute, closely observed, and entertaining study is radical scholarship at its deepest and most searching. A powerful point of departure for the next generation of critiques of development." James C. Scott, Co-director: Program in Agrarian Studies, Yale University
Acknowledgments; Note on Names Introduction 1. The Transition to Democracy; 2. Ill-Gotten Land; 3. Precarious Lots; 4. Duplicitous Documents; 5. Populist Transparency Epilogue Notes; Bibliography; Index