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The Meanings of the (Global) South From a Latin American Perspective  

Élodie Brun

The concept of the Global South receives much attention and study, but not all perspectives are equally visible. Scholars who work on the topic from Latin America are still largely ignored. The definitions they propose are eclectic in their sources and inclusive and flexible as far as epistemological and ontological issues are concerned. They agree that the concept, whether named with the adjective “global” or not, serves to denote a set of actors characterized by high diversity but unified by their unfavorable position in the world, as they suffer from global asymmetries. Studying and centering the Global South means revising the chronology of global history to understand these actors’ specific trajectories. However, Latin American scholars differ regarding the role of the state and the scope of their critical views. Most of them consider the state an important actor of the Global South, but critical authors argue that civil society and academia are more important for promoting change. Some of them reflect on how to improve the early 21st-century system, whereas others explicitly promote visions of emancipation from it. In most cases, when researchers reflect on the usefulness of the (Global) South concept, their concern includes dissatisfaction with the adjective “global.” Their reflection leads them to propose alternative, mainly state-centered expressions that aim to enhance the agency of the (Global) South, such as the self-designated South, geopolitical South, and relational South. The plural meanings of the (Global) South reveal the political and sometimes idealistic aspirations associated with it in Latin American contributions. As such, the concept cannot be dissociated from its potential for political mobilization.

Article

South–South Cooperation in the 21st Century: An Analysis From Latin America  

Gladys Lechini and Carla Morasso

During the first decade of the 21st century, the international system underwent a process of transformation in which emerging actors gained prominence, promoting a new stage that enabled the resurgence of South–South cooperation (SSC). The field of international relations approached this phenomenon mainly through studies of international development cooperation, but also from a foreign policy analysis approach. Although at the beginning of the century attention was focused especially on emerging countries like China, India, Brazil, and South Africa, among others, the consolidation of SSC between middle-income countries, particularly in Latin America, gave rise to a broad debate on the distinct identities of the Southern partners. Considering the substantial literature produced, and emphasizing a perspective rooted in Latin America, SSC is analyzed with the goals of contributing to understand SSC from its conceptual formulation, link SSC to foreign policy considerations, and, finally, understand how SSC has affected the International Development Cooperation System.

Article

International Insertion: A Non-Western Contribution to International Relations  

Fabrício Chagas-Bastos

International insertion is a concept that comes from non-Western intellectual origins and can help individuals understand how peripheral and semi-peripheral countries behave in world politics, and their interests, core values, and strategies. International insertion also expands the knowledge to characterize how agency spaces are created by peripheral countries. Insertion is a necessary step to those countries attempting to transition from the condition of one who seeks to be recognized as part of, to one who is admitted as possessing and capable of seeking status and acting within political, economic, and military global hierarchies. In a nutshell, insertion means being recognized by the small group of gatekeeping states as a relevant part of the specific social networks that constitute the global hierarchy. The conceptualization of international insertion allows a robust middle-range explanation that considers multiple dimensions (political, economic, and military) of the national and international structural and contextual aspects these actors must translate to navigate world politics.

Article

Critical Scholarship on Terrorism  

Priya Dixit

Understandings of “critical” in critical scholarship on terrorism range from a Frankfurt School–influenced definition to a broader definition that aims to interrogate commonsense understandings of terrorism and counterterrorism. Overall, critical scholarship on terrorism draws on multiple disciplines and methodological traditions to analyze terrorism and counterterrorism. Within these, there have been ongoing debates and discussions about whether the state should be included in research on terrorism and, if so, what the inclusion of the state would do for the understanding of terrorism. Critical scholarship has also outlined the need for further attention to research ethics, as well as urged researchers to acknowledge their standpoints when conducting and communicating research. Some, but not all, critical scholarship has a normative orientation with the goal of emancipation, though the meaning of emancipation remains debated. Methodologically, the majority of critical scholarship on terrorism utilizes an interpretive lens to analyze terrorism and related issues. A central goal of critical terrorism research is to rework power relations such that Global South subjectivities are centered on research. This means including research conducted by Global South scholars and also centering Global South peoples and concerns in analyses of terrorism and counterterrorism. The role of gender, analytically and in practice, in relation to terrorism is also a key part of critical scholarship. Critical scholars of terrorism have observed that race is absent from much of terrorism scholarship, and there needs to be ongoing work toward addressing this imbalance. Media and popular culture, and their depiction of terrorism and counterterrorism, form another key strand in critical scholarship on terrorism. Overall, critical scholarship on terrorism is about scrutinizing and dismantling power structures that sustain commonsense knowledge regarding terrorism.

Article

Foreign Aid, Development Cooperation and International Relations  

Bernabé Malacalza

Despite the dominance of development economics in the study of foreign aid and development cooperation since the 1950s, particularly with the emergence of modernization theory, an examination of academic contributions to the larger debates in international relations (IR) reveals something not extensively documented in the scholarly literature. It is that the study of foreign aid and development cooperation is inherently intertwined with IR, constituting an integral component thereof. Understanding the evolution of foreign aid and development cooperation studies, as well as its interaction with IR theories, is essential for deciphering the contemporary theoretical, normative, methodological, ontological, and epistemological challenges faced by the field. Investigating the historical evolution of this field in relation to IR involves analyzing, in parallel, its development alongside shifts in the international order. The historical analysis highlights how foreign aid and development cooperation have been shaped by changing power structures, ideological shifts, and geopolitical events, underscoring its inseparable connection to broader IR dynamics and its theorization. The interconnected nature of these domains demonstrates how prevailing theoretical perspectives influence not only the methods employed but also the identification of underlying forces and the normative principles guiding research, as well as the design of foreign aid and development cooperation policies. Analyzing how epistemological approaches, such as rationalism and reflectivism, have influenced the investigation of narratives and practices within the realms of foreign aid and development cooperation reveals potential elements of theoretical complementation. Beyond mere theoretical differentiation, there are elements that contribute significantly to fostering notions of dialogue, pluralism, and interdisciplinarity within the field of foreign aid and development cooperation studies. The prevailing trend is a movement toward theoretical eclecticism, wherein researchers increasingly draw upon a variety of theoretical frameworks to better grasp the intricate dynamics of foreign aid and development cooperation. This transformation stems from the evolving nature of global challenges and the recognition that a singular theoretical approach may fall short in capturing the multifaceted dimensions of foreign aid and development cooperation. Moreover, it underscores the dynamic and evolving nature of the field, emphasizing the need for interdisciplinary approaches and theoretical flexibility to address the complex issues surrounding foreign aid and the discussion of the concept of development in times of global planetary crisis.

Article

The Right to Development  

Daniel J. Whelan

The right to development is an internationally recognized human right that entitles every human person and all peoples to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural, civil, and political development. It is a right held both by individual human persons and all peoples. The right was enshrined in the Declaration on the Right to Development, adopted by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in December 1986. It has since been reiterated as indivisible with all other human rights in scores of UN resolutions and summit outcome documents, most notably the 2030 Agenda for Development, adopted by consensus in 2015. The right to development entails a variety of obligations on states (at the domestic and international levels), regional actors, non-state actors (e.g., transnational corporations), and international organizations. Since 2019, the UN Human Rights Council’s Intergovernmental Working Group on the Right to Development has been discussing a draft Convention on the Right to Development to codify these obligations. Since it first came under discussion at the UN in the 1970s, the right to development has consistently generated debate and controversy among scholars and governments, which has frustrated the formation of a consensus around both conceptual issues (the nature and scope of such a right and how it is defined) and practical considerations (the extent of obligations, who holds them, and challenges of monitoring and implementation). There are those, especially (but not exclusively) in the Global South, who view the right to development as rightfully prioritizing the international duty to cooperate, which is a prerequisite for, first, the realization of economic, social, and cultural rights, and then of civil and political rights. This duty obligates developed countries to provide economic, technological, and other resources to developing states, free of conditionalities. In contrast, although generally agreeing that there are important “soft” obligations for development, skeptics, especially (but not exclusively) in the Global North, are wary of making such aid and assistance obligatory, and they are concerned that the right to development may be (or has been) used to justify curtailing especially civil and political rights in the name of “development.” They instead argue for a “human rights approach to development” that entails national-level commitments to good governance, transparency, accountability, and respect for all human rights in the development process.

Article

Caribbean Foreign Policy  

Jacqueline Anne Braveboy-Wagner

Despite the near-absence of studies of the Caribbean within the mainstream of international relations (IR) theory and foreign policy analysis (FPA), as well as a tendency to subsume this diverse and unique region within the larger Latin America, a focus on Caribbean international relations offers several interesting implications for the wider fields of both IR and FPA. Realist, liberalist, constructivist, and critical approaches all can be incorporated into the study of Caribbean foreign policy in unique ways, and the subfield of foreign policy analysis can also be enriched by focusing on the particular domestic sources of foreign policy in small, culturally diverse, developing countries such as the Caribbean states. Among the unique characteristics of foreign policy in these states is the important role played by external forces in both the economy and the polity, leading to constraints on decision-making autonomy. The external factor also explains why the idea of “inter-American relations” has long been viewed as providing the necessary backdrop for explaining Caribbean foreign policy. Related to this is the important role played by the main regional actors, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), as well as the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), which has thinned the boundary between state and region. As for the prioritization of military-security issues seen in the more powerful countries of the globe, these Caribbean states (apart from Cuba) have eschewed military adventures and traditionally defined their foreign policies in terms of the prioritization of economic development. Finally, to study Caribbean foreign policy means that the scholar must exercise creativity in borrowing from perspectives not normally included in traditional foreign policy studies. Sociology, anthropology, historiography, political economy, and public policy are complementary tools for understanding the Caribbean. Moreover, situating the study of foreign policy within general currents of thought on the role of small states and global south states is also recommended.