A Nicaraguan Exceptionalism? Debating the Legacy of the Sandinista Revolution


Hilary Francis


child migrants, migration, revolution, public policy, interdisciplinary


In recent years, child migrants from Central America have arrived in the United States in unprecedented numbers. But whilst minors from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador make the perilous journey to the north, their Nicaraguan peers have remained in Central America. Nicaragua also enjoys lower murder rates and far fewer gang problems when compared with her neighbours.

Why is Nicaragua so different? The present government has promulgated a discourse of Nicaraguan exceptionalism, arguing that Nicaragua is unique thanks to heritage of the 1979 Sandinista revolution. This volume critically interrogates that claim, asking whether the legacy of the revolution is truly exceptional. An interdisciplinary work, the book brings together historians, anthropologists and sociologists to explore the multifarious ways in which the revolutionary past continues to shape public policy - and daily life - in Nicaragua’s tumultuous present. 


  • Introduction: exceptionalism and agency in Nicaragua’s revolutionary heritage
    Hilary Francis
  • ‘We didn’t want to be like Somoza’s Guardia’: policing, crime and Nicaraguan exceptionalism
    Robert Sierakowski
  • ‘The revolution was so many things’
    Fernanda Soto
  • Nicaraguan food policy: between self-sufficiency and dependency
    Christiane Berth
  • On Sandinista ideas of past connections to the Soviet Union and Nicaraguan exceptionalism
    Johannes Wilm
  • Agrarian reform in Nicaragua in the 1980s: lights and shadows of its legacy
    José Luis Rocha
  • The difference the revolution made: decision-making in Liberal and Sandinista communities
    Hilary Francis
  • Grassroots verticalism? A Comunidad Eclesial de Base in rural Nicaragua
    David Cooper
  • Nicaraguan legacies: advances and setbacks in feminist and LGBTQ activism
    Florence E. Babb
  • Conclusion: exceptionalism and Nicaragua’s many revolutions
    Justin Wolfe


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February 24, 2020

Details about the available publication format: Free Open Access PDF

Free Open Access PDF

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Details about the available publication format: Paperback edition

Paperback edition

ISBN-13 (15)


Date of first publication (11)

Hijri Calendar

Physical Dimensions