This introductory chapter opens with a brief description of the novel populist mobilization practices that Peruvian political actors elaborated over the course of their 1931 presidential campaigns—the book’s central outcome of interest. It then endeavors to accomplish four things. First, it establishes the significance of, and outlines what is puzzling about, this outcome from a historical perspective. Second, it translates the historical puzzle into more theoretical terms, framing the outcome as a case of change in repertoires of political practice. Third, it assesses existing ways of explaining repertoire change that can be found in the literatures on social movements and contentious politics, highlighting strengths and deficiencies. Finally, it develops a framework for explaining political innovation that is based in part on pragmatist theories of action and specifies how the book’s substantive argument will be developed in the remaining chapters.
Keywords: contentious politics, Peru, political innovation, political practice, populist mobilization, pragmatism, repertoires, social movements