Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Excerpt of the day
Thus, starting in 1979 under military governments, Argentina and Brazil managed to carry out a rapprochement process that bore concrete fruits within six years, changed mutual perceptions, and finally set up a durable, 'strategic alliance': Mercosur.

Andrea Oelsner in Two Sides of the Same Coin: Mutual Perceptions and Security Community in the Case of Argentina and Brazil. I don't know about you, but the last time I had concrete fruit, I ended up with bleeding gums and had to go to the dentist.

By the way, I should add that mainstream IR scholars with a constructivist bent (Wendt, Katzenstein, et al) are seriously missing the boat by not looking at South America. Typically, constructivist scholarship in IR has tended to focus on two issues: the change in the political landscape of Europe, and the end of the Cold War. Both are good cases but are also somewhat overdetermined, that is to say, there exist a number of other causes of these events which can stand up to empirical scrutiny just as strongly as constructvist explanations (especially in the Cold War case). South America, by contrast, is begging to be looked through a constructivist lens, mainly because the hegemonic theories (Neorealism, Liberal Institutionalism) have little or nothing to say about (a) the long peace on the continent that has existed since the late 19th century (there have been only four interstate wars among South American states in the last 120 years, and three of these - Peru/Colombia in 1932, Peru/Ecuador in 1941 and Peru/Ecuador again in 1995 - saw less than 1500 people die) and (b) the beginning and deepening of warm relations between Argentina and Brazil in the last quarter of the 20th century. Very few scholars have tackled (a), which is one of the reasons I wrote a paper on it last quarter and might make it a MA thesis/dissertation topic. A few more have tackled (b) but from a regional politics perspective rather than an overarching theoretical one that speaks to ongoing ontological debates within IR. The point is that there is plenty of intellectual space here, space that I fully intend on exploiting.

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