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The Global Political Economy of the Informal Mining Industry: A Critical Analysis of Latin American Perspectives  

Santiago Carranco-Paredes

The traditional paradigms within International Political Economy (IPE) and International Relations (IR) have historically focused primarily on formal sectors of political and economic activities, often overlooking analyses of informal or covert realms. This approach has limited the comprehension of global power dynamics, neglecting crucial insights into phenomena occurring within the informal sector. The oversight of informal actors, considered irrelevant by conventional perspectives, hampers a holistic understanding of global relations. This research adopts a critical stance, drawing on the insights of Robert Cox and postcolonial contributions, to challenge the traditional paradigms of IPE and IR. It advocates for a more inclusive and comprehensive approach that recognizes the agency of non-state actors in transnational processes. Through a focused examination of the small and medium-scale gold-mining sector, this study seeks to transcend the state-centric approach, providing a broader understanding of global relations. The analysis delves into the intricate dynamics of this sector, shedding light on the significant role played by non-state actors in shaping transnational processes. By doing so, the research contributes to the development of a more inclusive and nuanced global political economy. It emphasizes the need to incorporate diverse perspectives and account for local realities, thereby enriching the academic discourse on global relations. In essence, this research challenges the established narratives, advocating for a paradigm shift that acknowledges the multifaceted and influential role of non-state actors in the global arena. The study’s findings offer valuable insights into the complexities of global relations, highlighting the interconnectedness of formal and informal sectors. This approach not only deepens the understanding of the small and medium-scale gold-mining sector but also fosters a more comprehensive and inclusive framework for analyzing global political and economic phenomena.

Article

Highly Skilled Migration  

Brad K. Blitz

Evidence shows that international flows of highly skilled workers are increasing, both between advanced states and between advanced and developing regions. The movement of skilled people around the globe is driven by a variety of political forces, including governments’ continued efforts to address domestic labor shortages and restock through preferential immigration policies and international recruitment drives. For social scientists, the unprecedented movement of highly skilled labor across the globe calls into question earlier approaches to the study of migration. Where international highly skilled workers were treated in the classical sociological literature on migration as a small population that reflected both the potential for human capital transfers between states and, more controversially, a corresponding “brain drain” from source countries, the realities of transnational migration now complicate this picture. The expansion of the European Union and other forms of regional cooperation have given rise to important trade liberalizing agreements, producing a truly global migration market and the policy context for much contemporary research. More studies are needed to tackle issues relevant to the study of skilled migration, such as estimates of skilled migrants, longitudinal studies of circular migration, and analyses of the differentiation of migrants by occupational group and country of origin, along with the relative access that such groups enjoy in the receiving state.

Article

International Competition and Cooperation in the New Eastern Mediterranean  

Zenonas Tziarras

In the 21st century and particularly during the 2010s, the Eastern Mediterranean acquired unprecedented attention and significance as a distinct geopolitical space with new international and security dynamics. This “new” Eastern Mediterranean geopolitical order was largely “constructed” by global and regional power shifts as well as local developments, such as the trajectory of Turkish foreign policy and the discovery of offshore hydrocarbon reserves. The result was a change in the region’s patterns of interstate conflict and cooperation. On the one hand, countries such as Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, and Israel became part of an emerging network of cooperation and security architecture. On the other hand, owing to its problematic relations with these states, Turkey remained an outsider wanting to “deconstruct” this new state of affairs and change it to its own benefit. As such, the new Eastern Mediterranean was ushered in during a period of geopolitical polarization that is more conducive to crisis rather than peace and stability and often transcends its boundaries.

Article

Intersecting Geographies of Institutions and Sovereignty  

Alexander B. Murphy

The concept of sovereignty developed along with the modern state system. Its institutionalization greatly influenced interactions among political-territorial entities and largely coopted the modern geographical imagination. An international system based on sovereign principles has never been realized, of course, and accelerating globalization, increased mobility, and a revolution in the technology of communication are challenging sovereignty’s functional and perceptual significance in unprecedented ways. Nonetheless, sovereignty’s de jure and conceptual impact remain strong, as evident in everything from nationalism’s continuing hold on the human imagination to the way that projects ostensibly set up to transcend the norms of the modern state system (e.g., European unification) remain closely bound to sovereign territorial ideas and understandings.

Article

The Irish Border  

Milena Komarova and Katy Hayward

The emergence, development, and transformation of the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland reveals much about the changing nature of nation-statehood over the century that followed its creation. In its own way, it is also a subject of innovation. The three interrelated strands of relationships safeguarded by the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement of 1998 in many ways define the border. These relationships run within and between the two islands of Ireland and Britain, and also between the two political traditions in Northern Ireland. Nationalists and Unionists have come to define much of their ethos in relation to the symbolic meaning of the Irish border: The former want the border removed and the latter see the border as necessary to keep Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom. This helps to understand the prominence given to the Irish border in the context of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union (EU), as well as the controversy around the terms of the U.K.–EU Withdrawal Agreement, which changed the nature of the relationship between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom as well as between Northern Ireland and Ireland. As a consequence of Brexit, the future of borders in and around Ireland—their openness and their governance—will be inevitably shaped by the vicissitudes of the EU–U.K. relationship.

Article

Israeli Foreign Policy  

Aviad Rubin

The main principles of Israeli foreign policy emerged during the pre-state period and were shaped by Zionist ideology and the lessons of the Holocaust. The primary goal of this policy was, and still is, to secure a sovereign Jewish state in the land of Israel, and a safe haven for world Jewry. Another dominant factor in the shaping of the foreign policy of Israel was the need to encounter the country’s challenging geostrategic situation—small territory; lack of natural resources, until the discovery of natural gas depots in water in the Israeli exclusive economic zone during the last decade; fragile Jewish communities around the world; and a hostile neighborhood. Combined together, these considerations are the issues that rank high on the agenda of Israeli foreign policy and affect Israel’s relationship with the international community, ranging from the global superpowers to third world countries. After maintaining a relatively steady foreign policy program throughout the 20th century, in the 21st century the state made some significant policy shifts, especially under Benjamin Netanyahu’s consecutive governments. These included a halt in Israeli–Palestinian negotiations for peace; a high-profile campaign against Iran’s nuclear weapons program; more emphasis on the maritime domain; and strengthening ties with illiberal leaders around the world. In 2021, the seeming epilogue of Netanyahu’s tenure as prime minister leaves an open question about the relative weight of structural and ideational factors vs. powerful political agents in the design of Israel’s foreign policy.

Article

Language and Borders  

Devika Sharma

Languages and borders commit violence on an otherwise polysemous and hybrid world. By emphasizing fixity over liminality, a high cost is extracted for the order imposed on unsettled landscapes. Different voices are silenced and complexities become flattened, but more harmfully, reality gets foreclosed within the limiting confines of a hegemonic discourse that endorses a very specific worldview. Not only is this worldview the progenitor of a specific representation of borders and languages, but borders and languages become the sites from which this worldview is reinforced. To escape this tautology, borders and languages can also be viewed as sites for imagining an alternative radical geopolitics and linguistics. By de-colonizing and de-centering the conventional understanding of borders and languages, one can direct the focus toward the otherwise understudied liminal and in-between spaces and incorporate a more tentative and polysemous lexicon that is better equipped to comprehend these liminal spaces. To this end, it is important to consider language and borders not only as interconnected conceptual categories that impinge on understanding the world as it is but also as sites from which alternatives can be reimagined.

Article

Member-State Structures in Federations: Creation and Implications  

George Anderson

While member-state structures—the number, relative sizes, and demographic characteristics of states in federal regimes—could be thought to be one of the defining features of different federations, the comparative literature has paid relatively little attention to this important topic. There is the well-known distinction between “coming together” and “holding together” federations, but this has not led to comparative examinations of how these different formative experiences relate to the member-state structure of a federation, its evolution over time, and the processes for defining new or revised member-states. There has been more comparative attention to differences between “ethnic” and “territorial” federations, but often with limited linkage to other variables, such as the number and relative sizes of the member-states. For example, the literature on consociational power-sharing arrangements in central federal governmental institutions has largely neglected consideration of how the member-state structure and the pattern of territorial cleavages in the society affect the likelihood or form of power-sharing arrangements. This relates to the need to see the political geometry of federations in their broader social context: how the member-state structure compares with the underlying social and territorial cleavages in the country. While these cleavages may affect the member-state structure of the federation, they will certainly affect the political dynamics as institutional arrangements and societal pressures interact.

Article

Money and Borders  

Mariana Santos and David Bassens

Money and finance are often thought of as forming a uniform, frictionless global space. While events in the last decades have certainly shown how monetary and financial practices and events have consequences that span the globe, this global reach of money and finance is far from evenly distributed. Rather, money flows and lumps unevenly across space, with the financial system connecting some places better than others, producing effects that are geoeconomic, sociocultural, and material in nature. One productive way of opening the black box of “global finance” is by exploring money’s manifold entailments with space and borders. Borders is here meant writ large. It means, of course, the geopolitical borders of the sovereign state and jurisdictional territory, showing how global finance is rooted in the contemporary architecture of states and international relations. But it also means attending to how lines in this cartographical space of geopolitical borders are rearranged, stretched, and inflected through cross-border networks of actors, notably financial institutions, concentrated in key places of international finance. This article seeks to bring to the broader academic debate on money and borders a reading whereby the “plumbing and wiring” of international finance is seen as entailed with practices of “b/ordering” that “dissolve” borderlands and connect space as much as they produce margins, edges, and fringes. Thinking money and finance in terms of borders and frontiers help us understand how money and financial markets (notably, credit–debt relations) materialize differently on either side of financial inclusion and exclusion lines, with implications for the bodies that inhabit them.

Article

Muslim Views of the Polity: Citizenry, Authority, Territoriality, and Sovereignty  

Nassef Manabilang Adiong

Muslim views on the polity represent the paradigmatic understandings of how Muslims relate citizenry, authority, territoriality, and sovereignty to the overarching influence of the Western nation-state system. For instance, the meaning of citizenry in the modern state system was adopted by several Muslim societies during the decolonization period. Faith or submission to the will of God was the main criterion to become part of the group (usually referred to as the ummah). However, orientalists regarded ummah as a synonym for tribe, while Arab linguists insisted on a religious connotation. Authority, on the other hand, is ultimately enshrined in the personhood of the Prophet who is the spiritual leader, executor, legislator, and judicial interpreter of God’s message. Since in reality the Prophet is no longer existing, leadership is bestowed on the subsequent followers, and sometimes the ummah may possess leadership status through a social contract between the ruler and the ruled. The manifestation of operationalized authority needs a political space, domain, or place, which is attainable via the notion of territoriality. This is loosely conceptualized as an ummah that has geographical aspects, cultural traits, and a lingua franca. In the 8th century, jurists divided Muslim territoriality into two analytical terms, the abode of Islam (dar al-Islam) and the abode of war/the enemy (dar al-Harb), while the Shia version of abodes rests in the Qur’anic dichotomy of “oppressed–oppressor.” The last concept pertains to sovereignty (hakimiyyah), commonly understood as “the will of God” and advanced by Islamists in the 20th century. In medieval times, it was understood as the promotion of public welfare envisaged in Shari’ah, while in modern times, Islamic modernists argued that Islamists wrongfully understood sovereignty and that the root word used in the Qur’an meant “to govern.” Nowadays, the assertion that symbolizes God’s sovereignty can be found in some modern Muslim states.

Article

The Politics of (In)Visibility: Geopolitics and Subaltern Bodies  

Francine Rossone de Paula

The materiality of (living, dead, and surviving) bodies has been highlighted as a productive element of resistance against intersectional violence and oppression in Latin America. While acknowledging the potential of feminist solidarities and embodied resistance to reinscribe meaning on political spaces by cutting across these spaces and opening new territories for recognition and social justice, it remains important to acknowledge the precarity of certain bodies’ geopolitical positions. Processes through which some bodies are simultaneously concealed and exposed, and whose movements are continuously perceived as excessive to the status quo, may be revealing of these bodies’ inherent potential for disruption and politicization as both a symbolic and physical presence. However, when visibility is itself a symptom of their “displacement” from dominant representations sustaining the ordering of space, these bodies’ visibility is rarely translated into audibility or legibility. In other words, they exceed the “map,” and their visibility is revealing of their condition of being “out of place.” Historic and contemporary feminist movements in Latin America show that when recognition is conditioned by the perception of presence as displacement, this may prevent subaltern bodies not only to speak to the political but also mainly to be heard. A closer look at their positionings and potentialities reveal the conditions for gendered and racist geographies of visibility, recognition, and agency and calls for a radicalization of the geo in geo-politics (with a hyphen) toward the de-normalization of violence as the everyday of international politics.

Article

The Role of Geographic Education in International Studies  

Fred Shelley

Geography has been a formal academic discipline in the United States since the early twentieth century. During the first six or so decades of this period, geographic education was dominated by the legacies of environmental determinism and orientalism. These concepts were representative of a Eurocentric worldview that showed contempt for non-Western cultures and economies, treating “natives” of non-Western cultures as backward, ignorant, and lazy. Presentation of material about non-Western areas of the world in geography textbooks and publications has been characterized by assumptions of Western cultural superiority. The late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries saw geographic education undergo considerable transition, as geographers pay more and more attention to perspectives like dependency theory and world system theory. Renewed interest in geographic education coincided with the revival of geography as an intellectual pursuit and recognition of the importance of place in the world economy and in international relations, along with the explosive growth of information made possible by television, the internet, and other technologies. More importantly, the orientalist biases that have historically characterized geographic education in the United States and other Western countries have gradually disappeared. It has been argued that improved geographic education will help overcome geographic illiteracy and promote public awareness of international relations, but such awareness must be intertwined with the changing role of educational institutions in managing information, and to recognition of the changing relationships between education and information.

Article

Settlers and Territorial Control  

Oded Haklai

Population settlements/settlers as a means for obtaining territorial control have been an omnipresent phenomenon throughout recorded history of human society. Whereas scholarly debates about settlers have typically been associated with European imperial settler colonialism, an emerging research agenda has started to develop in the 21st century around the politics of settlers, or population settlements, in contested territories in the post-WWII era, primarily in the postcolonial world. The research around this ubiquitous phenomenon is still in its infancy, however, and is characterized more by studies of specific cases and less by comparative analysis that aims to identify patterns of theoretical relevance. Cases of settlers in contested lands are abundant all over the world: from Xinjiang and Tibet in China, to Israel and the West Bank in the Middle East, the Casamance in Senegal, Abkhazia in the Caucasus, Aceh and Papua in Indonesia, and the islands of San Andrés and Providencia in Colombia. Multiple questions can be drawn from studies of these cases as well as the emerging body of literature around them: How have population settlements been conceptualized? What drives them? How have they been pursued? What array of variables has been identified by scholars to explain their proliferation in different cases? What broad patterns and categories can be identified and used for comparative and theoretically driven research? Finally, how can these general categories be useful for generating more robust theory-building scholarship?

Article

Spatiality and World Politics  

Duncan Weaver

Space has always animated world politics, but three spatial orientations are striking. First, the Westphalian orientation deems space a sovereign power container. Second, the scalar takes recourse to the local, regional, national, and global spaces in which world politics is played out. Third, the relational deems space a (re)produced, sociohistorically contingent phenomenon that changes according to the humans occupying it and the thought, power, and resources flowing through it. Under this latter orientation, space is lived, lived in and lived through. Whilst relationality, to a degree, calls into question the received wisdoms of International Relations (IR), the fixity of sovereignty and territory remain. The orientations coexist concomitantly, reflecting the “many worlds” humankind occupies.

Article

The Coloniality of the Scientific Anthropocene  

Vishwas Satgar

The discipline of International Relations is not at the cutting edge of dealing with planetary ecological problems such as the worsening climate crisis. The notion of the Anthropocene developed by earth scientists highlights the extent to which humans are a geological force shaping earth’s ecosystems. This official scientific discourse has gained traction in the United Nations climate negotiations process and is beginning to shape the knowledge project even in the academy. However, the discipline of International Relations has not engaged in any serious way with the Anthropocene discourse. Its claim that the Anthropos, the human as a species, and more generally 7.8 billion people on the planet are responsible causally for dangerous impacts such as climate change clashes with how the discipline of International Relations understands and seeks to explain global politics through its theoretical frameworks, relations, dynamics, and institutions. This claim warrants critical engagement from the International Relations discipline. However, mainstream International Relations epistemology reinforces coloniality in international relations such that an oppressive and relational hierarchy between the Global North and South is reproduced while being oblivious to how the ecological substratum of our lifeworld is being destroyed through replicating modes of living central to global modernity. Ecological relations are not part of mainstream International Relations thinking. Within mainstream International Relations, its hegemonic theories and frameworks are the problem. The conception of the international and international relations operating within the Anthropocene discourse also reproduces coloniality. Although the science it furnishes to understand the human–nature relationship is compelling and important, its human-centered explanation of how global power works is inadequate and reinforces the subordination of the Global South. To overcome these problems, a decolonized approach to the discipline of International Relations is crucial. At the same time, given the urgency of the climate crisis, countries in the Global South need to remake the world order and its future through decolonized International Relations. Several Southern decolonial thinkers are crucial for this task.

Article

The Rise of Linear Borders  

Kerry Goettlich

Since roughly the late 19th century, international borders have generally been characterized by linearity, or the appearance as a series of one-dimensional points, connected by straight lines. Prior to this, various kinds of frontiers existed globally, some of them being more linear than others, but most included some kind of formal ambiguity. International relations (IR) often takes for granted the historical process which brought about the global linearization of borders, culminating in the late 19th century and still ongoing in ocean spaces and in outer space. But because cross-border relations are the main substance of inquiry in IR, many theories and areas of study in IR contain some perspective on that process, at least implicitly.

Article

The World System in the Information Age: Structure, Processes, and Technologies  

Joachim K. Rennstich

The new information age has the potential not only to alter the historical path of world system development, as other socio-technological paradigmatic shifts have done, but also to transform it substantially. One school of thought argues for a complete upending of past patterns with nation states in their hierarchical alignment as the center core and periphery of power in this system. An alternative view instead argues that the regularized interaction that characterizes a world system may envisage a number of modes of production without altering its fundamental structure. The world system in this view is made up of a variety of complex intra-organizational and interorganizational networks intersecting with geographical networks structured particularly around linked clusters of socioeconomic activity. Information and carrier technologies based on new forms of information technologies and their connection to network technologies play a vital role in the long-term evolution of world system development characterized by both path-dependencies and major transformations that result from technological innovations. While digital information technologies significantly alter the processing and use of information as a central element of power and control within this network structure and therefore its network logic, they do not break the evolutionary process of world system development.

Article

Using Geography to Rethink the State  

James D. Sidaway and Carl Grundy-Warr

The state can be viewed as a form of community. Forms of human community and their attendant territorialities have been characterized by extreme variation, both historically and geographically. A profound territorial link exists between the state and the nation, with the former claiming to be a sovereign expression of the nation. A common feature of states is that they all have territorial boundaries. Moreover, the state can be interpreted as a territorial–bureaucratic expression of nationalism, found in many public rituals such as coronations and remembrance days, military parades, national holidays, swearing in of governments, and state funerals. One of the most contentious issues among states, potential states, and nations revolves around sovereignty. Challenges to sovereignty and the historical and geographical complexity of nations may be seen in terms of political landscapes as “sovereigntyscapes.” Related to the question of sovereignty are the so-called “shadow powers and networks” that transcend territorial boundaries. In the field of political geography, in tandem with significant strands of International Relations and Political Science, state power is recognized as a key, albeit not the only form, of territorial politics. The state’s relationship with the ideas of nation and citizen give rise to a host of particularisms, similarities, and contradictions that require theoretically informed yet thoroughly grounded research in divergent contexts.