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ABSTRACT

Social conflict in Peru has increased dramatically since 2004. The economic origins of these disputes, which result mostly from the growth of mining operations, have received considerable scholarly attention. The emergence of collective action directed at the performance of regional and local government, however, has received little notice. This essay examines Peru's regional and local governance conflicts on the basis of hundreds of reported cases. It investigates the nature of these episodes and the strategies adopted by community organizations to get their complaints addressed. It finds that the political opportunity of the posttransition period, dissatisfaction with government performance, and new participatory rights have helped to give rise to such collective action. Community protagonists choose between institutional and noninstitutional strategies but often combine them to help ensure success. Maintaining legitimacy proves essential to both sides. This article argues that these events represent both constraints and favorable developments for subnational democracy in Peru.