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Article

The Latin American Long Peace  

Nicolás Terradas

Latin America is often hailed as “the most peaceful region in the world.” In both academic and policy circles, this view has taken root under the common perception of the region as a “zone of peace” where war and interstate armed conflict have largely disappeared and are now unthinkable. The region, however, continues to showcase high levels of intra-state violence despite the absence of war among states. In the IR academic debate of the long peace in Latin America, as well, several areas of discord and intense disagreement among the multiple works continue to challenge any encompassing explanations for this rather paradoxical regional phenomenon. In this context, for those interested in conducting further research in this area, there still is plenty of space for making meaningful contributions to both the theoretical study of regional peace dynamics as well as the unravelling of Latin America’s paradoxical coexistence of intra-state violence amid enduring inter-state peace.

Article

Autonomy in Foreign Policy: A Latin American Contribution to International Relations Theory  

María Cecilia Míguez

Autonomy is a concept constantly referred to in Latin American foreign policy analysis, especially with respect to Argentina and Brazil. As great powers continue to exert effective control over peripheral economies and their political decision making, autonomy emerges as a possibility for self-determination in the areas where hegemonic powers’ economic, political, and cultural interferences are expressed. Although this is not a new concept, the quest for autonomy within the “global periphery”—and elsewhere too—still remains relevant. Helio Jaguaribe and Juan Carlos Puig’s theoretical approaches are fundamental epistemological contributions to international relations (IR), not only in South America (where the theoretical approach was first developed) but also to the wider IR field outside the mainstream scholarship. In line with global historical changes, autonomy took on some subsequent new meanings, which led to new and heterogeneous formulations that transformed, and in certain cases also contradicted, the very genesis of the idea of autonomy. As a result, the so-called autonomy “with adjectives” emerged within IR peripheral debates. The 21st century witnessed the rebirth of the concept amid the rise of multilateralism and the new Latin American regionalism, which brought its relational character to the fore. Some of the new approaches to autonomy, especially from Brazil, used the concept as a methodological tool to understand the historical evolution of the country’s foreign policy. As such, autonomy and its theoretical reflection remain central to the analyses and interpretations of the international relations of peripheral countries, and it is in this sense that the autonomy can be highlighted broadly as a Latin American contribution to IR discipline. The concept of autonomy has a unique and foundational content referred to the discussion of the asymmetries in the global order. Studying autonomy is critical to understanding peripheral countries’ problems and dynamics.

Article

Post-Hegemonic Regionalism  

Pía Riggirozzi and Diana Tussie

The concept of post-hegemonic regionalism describes the scenario that has characterized Latin American regionalism in the last two decades. It first builds from Amitav Acharya’s work, in which he envisaged the end of United States hegemony and a world order of multiple leadership and power competitions, a scenario that he calls a “multiplex world.” To a large extent, post-hegemonic regionalism grew at odds with U.S. regional and hemispheric ambitions of market-led governance and in a context of weakened U.S. hegemony in Latin America. As a concept, denotes the region as a political space in which transborder governance is anchored in a new consensus about what cooperation and diplomacy is and is for, giving way to a reorganization of the regional scenario and the emergence of diverse efforts in new areas of cooperation. With this in mind, post-hegemonic regionalism is both a theory-based concept, contributing to a debate and a research agenda that branched out in the study of southern regionalism, as much as a manifestation of governance that re-signified and valued the regional space as one of action and contestation.

Article

International Relations as a Discipline in Argentina: Historical Roots and Theoretical Contributions  

Melisa Deciancio

Many scholars have addressed the relevance of thinking on processes, actors, ideas, and institutions that marked the development of International Relations (IR) in order to understand the way, it is studied and taught in modern times. As such, examining the constitution of the IR field in Argentina carries a twofold objective. Primarily, an in-depth study on the origins of the field in Argentina from a historical perspective brings to light how the field’s historical trajectory marked its development in modern times. Underlining the specific theoretical and methodological endeavors of Argentine IR allows researchers to establish how the field managed to gain density and gradually establish its own boundaries among other disciplines such as international law, diplomacy, geopolitics, political economy, and foreign policy analysis. Identifying the contributions of the Argentine IR field to a more universal and inclusive IR study allows for the definition of a broader non-Western IR agenda. Following Bourdieu’s study on scientific fields, this work answers the question of how the field has been shaped, and how the historical process of autonomization and internal differentiation that has allowed the discipline to legitimize itself as such in Argentina was shaped. From the observation and analysis of a number of components, it addresses the way its subject of study was outlined, through the contributions of agents of knowledge production and the areas of specialized knowledge involved in the process. The period carved out for analysis goes back to 1889, with the First Pan-American Conference in Washington DC, which triggered intense public debate in the country on how to participate in world affairs. The period of analysis ends in 1990, when the IR discipline was clearly considered an autonomous field of study. This temporal selection does not imply that the work follows a chronological and lineal path. Instead, it will consider and flesh out the “strong moments” of the complex, multidimensional, and nonlinear process of institutionalization of a field. As a result, it is possible to identify different arenas of struggle, where various forces are opposed in seeking internal legitimacy. Understanding these spaces as part of an internal struggle does not imply a tacit confrontation, but more a series of dilemmas that emerge from the process of legitimizing and defining the field.

Article

The Past, Present, and Future of China–Latin America Relations  

Carol Wise

The theme of China’s relations with Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) may be analyzed across three distinct phases. The first is 1949–1978, which entailed the efforts of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to reach out economically to LAC in its pursuit of raw material inputs; the CCP also made political gestures toward leftist parties in countries like Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Mexico; and there was considerable sociocultural interaction between the two. The second phase spans 1979–2000, which encompasses the first 2 decades of economic opening and structural reform in China. The LAC scenario during this time was one of economic volatility as well as a transition to democracy in a majority of countries. Economically, LAC’s debt-riddled “lost decade” of the 1980s gave way to the Washington Consensus in 1990, based on policies of liberalization, privatization, and deregulation. Similar to China’s reform thrust, LAC policymakers sought to incorporate the market more assertively into their respective economies. A third phase began in the wake of China’s 2001 accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). As China gained market access to the entire WTO membership, its demand exploded for those raw materials needed to ratchet-up the country’s export-led manufacturing strategy to produce more sophisticated and higher value-added products. Within this third phase, the main highlights of China–LAC relations in the 21st century included the following: positive economic shocks and aftershocks; China’s public diplomacy and foreign policy toward LAC; China–LAC “Strategic Partnerships;” and the so-called triangle with the United States. The article concludes with a final tally on LAC progress vis-à-vis closer economic integration with China since the turn of the new millennium.

Article

Identity and Regional Institutions in Latin America  

Germán C. Prieto and Juan Carlos Aguirre

The relationship between identity and institutions has traditionally been a main explanatory factor of the unfolding of regionalism from a constructivist lens. Yet, this relationship has not been largely addressed in the study of regionalism in Latin America, where collective identity is often expected to be strong, but regional institutions are often considered weak. The relationship between institutional flexibility and inertia with collective identity can be illustrated by the cases of the Andean Community (AC) and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), where due to harsh disagreement between member states about crucial issues, these regionalist projects risked being thrown into question or even terminated. The AC has stronger institutionalization than UNASUR. Analysis of the AC shows that institutional flexibility and inertia, articulated with certain dimensions of Andean collective identity and even triggering identification effects among member states, helped overcome certain critical moments. First, Peru’s reluctance to adopt certain commercial schemes for meeting the project’s aim of constituting a common market led the other AC members to consider expelling Peru from the regional scheme, but institutional flexibility and inertia, along with issues of collective identity, allowed Peru to remain an AC member. Second, Bolivia’s and Ecuador’s abandoning of collective FTA negotiations with the EU could have implied dismantling the regionalist project due to the impossibility of it acting as a bloc in the trade area, but the relationship between institutional flexibility and inertia with collective identity enabled maintaining the project and handling the critical moment successfully. In contrast, while the disagreement around the constitution of the Banco del Sur did not endanger the creation of UNASUR and later its continuity, mainly thanks to institutional flexibility though not so much to institutional inertia, the lack of a strong collective identity, together with the lack of institutional inertia, made the regionalist project fail in facing its first profound crisis regarding diplomatic conflict among its members around the legitimacy of Nicolás Maduro’s government in Venezuela, despite but also due to the huge institutional flexibility that had persuaded member states to join UNASUR in the first place.

Article

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

Development Financing in Latin America  

Leondard E. Stanley and Ernesto Vivares

Development finance (DF) schemes in Latin America have shifted from neoliberal and conservative to neo-developmentalist and populist approaches with no effect on political, economic, social, and environmental circumstances. Regardless of the political-ideological bias of the ruling coalition, critical problems related to the contradictions imposed by the global insertion model have remained the same. The dynamics of ideas, institutions, and actors illustrate the DF network of power and legitimacy. The governance of DF is a contested historical process in which opposite ideas about development, supported by antagonistic groups, confront the political-economic orientations. Different governances are institutional devices that reflect diverse development ideas and specific political-economic settings. Regardless of the model, a generalized crisis questions financial globalization and advises a rethinking of the financing schemes.

Article

IR in Mexico  

Arturo Santa-Cruz

Mexican International Relations (IR) is peculiar not only in that it stands apart from the contributions of both culturally similar countries, such as those in Latin America, and structurally similar positioned states, such as Canada, as well as from those originating in the United States, but also for its paucity. Since very little IR theory is done in Mexico, it is not surprising that Mexican IR appears to be “an American social science.” However, beyond the syllabi in the discipline’s university departments throughout Mexico, the practice of what little IR research there is in the country is anchored in approaches that are not mainstream in the United States. Thus, counterintuitively, Mexican IR is very similar to IR in other countries—and U.S. IR, not Mexico’s, is an outlier.

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

Human Rights in Latin America  

James C. Franklin

The systematic study of human rights came into its own in the 1980s on the heels of expanded efforts by human rights organizations, the U.S. Congress, and the Carter administration to respond to human rights abuses. Latin America was a primary target of these efforts and many of the early studies on human rights focused on this region. Here, an early literature on human rights formed around the practical question of whether U.S. foreign aid allocations were steered away from human rights violators, as the law required. The literature brought some of the first attempts to measure human rights violations systematically, and several of these scholars moved on to broader questions about what caused human rights abuses and on global efforts to stop them. This included analyses of threat perceptions, human rights movements, foreign policy, naming and shaming, and transitional justice. Some of the key theories in this literature were developed, at least in part, by Latin Americanists and a lot of early empirical application of the theories focused on this region. Over time, this literature has become increasingly global, and thus earlier research on Latin America greatly influenced the broader literature on human rights. Alongside the evolution of the scholarly literature, the nature of human rights abuses in Latin America has also changed. After the widespread democratization of the region, abuses shifted from those primarily targeted at political opposition to actions targeted at socially marginalized individuals. This suggests an important new topic for researchers.

Article

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

Legal Perspectives in IR and the Role of Latin America  

Juliana Peixoto Batista

The room for dialogue between international law (IL) and international relations (IR) is vast. Since the emergence of the liberal world order in the 20th century, there is a growing closeness between IL and IR approaches. Latin America played a significant role in this process, helping to shape the liberal world order. Despite the fact that liberal approaches to IR and IL promote the most self-evident interdisciplinary dialogue, there is a growing intersection field in critical approaches to IR and IL that should be further explored, and Latin America also has a role to play in that cross-fertilization process. By analyzing critical approaches, the narrative in both disciplines can be expanded, bringing a Global South perspective to the mainstream debate. How did IL scholars read changes in the international system from the second half of the 20th century? How did IR scholars read changes in the role of IL in the international system at the beginning of the 21st century? What is the role of Latin America and its contribution to these changes? With this in mind, intersection spaces can be revealed where room for conceptual, methodological, and collaborative work can be explored.

Article

Latin American Foreign Policy  

Amy Below

Latin American foreign policy has drawn the attention of scholars since the 1960s. Foreign policy–related literature began to surge in the 1980s and 1990s, with a focus on both economic and political development. As development in the region lagged behind that of its northern neighbors, Latin American had to rely on foreign aid, largely from the United States. In addition to foreign aid, two of the most prevalent topics discussed in the literature are trade/economic liberalization and regional economic integration (for example, Mercosur and NAFTA). During and after the Cold War, Latin America played a strategic foreign policy role as it became the object of a rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union hoping to expand their power and/or contain that of the other. This role was also explored in a considerably larger body of research, along with the decision of Latin American nations to diversify their foreign relations in the post–Cold War era. Furthermore, scholars have analyzed different regions/countries that have become new and/or expanded targets of Latin American foreign policy, including the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Despite the substantial amount of scholarship that has accumulated over the years, a unified theory of Latin American foreign policy remains elusive. Future research should therefore focus on the development of a theory that incorporates the multiple explanatory variables that influence foreign policy formulation and takes into account their relative importance and the effects on each other.

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.