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This chapter analyzes the political and social mobilization that led to Santa Elena’s separation from Guayas and creation of its own province in a context of significant political change at the national level termed “refoundational politics.” The process of provincialization combined political and social forces, assuming social movement characteristics while relying on the leadership of political elites—a fairly recent model of mobilization that has gained importance in Ecuador and the region. Based on oral interviews, archival research, and participant observation, this chapter also underscores the roles played by region, class, and ethnicity in conflicts over territory. In conclusion, this case challenges deeply embedded views about the state/society divide, the distinction between political and social movements, and the distance between political elites and their constituents.

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