Category Archives: Political science

The proposal to legalise drugs in South America

Security is one of the most important topics in International Studies. This concept is not always related to the North, the South has had its own threats too: throughout 19th and 20th centuries there have been Western empires, ideological battles and US interventions. But today, in South America, the main threat is drug trafficking and its roots are in economic globalization.

Free trade around the world is one of the most important long term economic trends and the exploitation of the free trade by emerging powers is an important short term trend. In this way, regions around the world have been impacted by new world economic powers like China. The Chinese demand of commodities around the world has resulted in high international prices and lucrative imports from countries like Chile, Peru and Brazil.

Together with China, Brazil has been very important in South America (in spite of its low growth throughout 2012) especially for countries like Bolivia or Paraguay, two landlocked states, where the main export to the Brazilian market is energy.

Thus, most of South American economies are growing around 4%[1] and during last decade poverty has decreased, even in Bolivia, the poorest regional country;[2] this is mainly because government efforts in this period have been focused on keeping macroeconomic responsibility plus implementation of social programs. Nonetheless, there are two main economic menaces in the region: first, most of South American countries are relying on China’s economy success, which in turn will not be forever. Second, if Brazil keeps its economy dependent on a bumpy Europe, and if the called “Brazil Cost”[3] continues without solution, most of its neighbours will suffer some consequences in the future[4].

In this context, most important security challenge in the region is drug trafficking and the first goal of defence policies is in human security. In order to overcome these issues countries are developing their own military actions: Democratic Security Policy (Colombia), “Ágata” Military Operations (between Brazil, Bolivia and Peru), “BOLBRA” war games (Bolivia and Brazil), or the New National Security Strategy and Defence of Chile whose main theatre of operations is Arica, region located in the border with Peru and Bolivia.

To understand this regional security challenge, first we have to highlight two of its main causes. First, despite the regional economic growth and social programs there are a huge social inequality and a strong social feeling of injustice (let’s remember student’s riots in Chile during 2011), many disadvantaged people choose alternative ways to realise social progress through gang activities. This happens in Rio do Janeiro (Brazil), Ciudad del Este (Paraguay), VRAEM (Peru), La Legua (Chile), and so on. It is certainly true that South American social problems could be worst if emerging powers cannot maintain its economy growth in the future.

Second, the economic growth and social programs in countries like Chile or Brazil have resulted in a huge middle class with capacity to consumption and, therefore, drugs traffickers have new markets to sell cocaine, besides its traditional big markets such as the United States and Western Europe. Clear example of this is the power gained by gang Primero Comando da Capital in Sao Paulo, which traffics from Paulist jails to the Brazilian market. In this sense, it is very important for Brazilian authorities to keep the control over international borders, because these gangs make business with cocaine dealers from Bolivia or Peru.

Without doubt, the situation is more complex when gang activities are connected to terrorist groups or irregular armies like the FARC. In this case the Colombian government has made enormous military and political efforts in order to combat this organization; actually today there is hope on Colombian peace negotiations lead by President Santos, because the end of war in Colombia could be the end of the main “narco-guerrilla”.

The Colombian case is especially worrying due to the guerrilla’s war impacts on Venezuela and Ecuador[5], two countries known by their difficult borders. According to the UNODC (2012) Venezuela has become the main port for Colombian cocaine to transatlantic routes, and Ecuador has become an important transit place too.

There is not easy solution to this kind of regional challenge, because drug trafficking and social inequalities are the first link in an intricate chain connecting Central America and Mexico, where transnational criminal gangs have got a dangerous power. On the other hand, South American countries are not the primarily responsible or, at least they are not only responsible of drug trafficking, because the primarily cocaine consumers are in the West.

In other words, this problem seems to be a transnational issue, and in this sense, one alternative would be legalizing the cocaine trafficking in order to dismiss criminal gangs, to get secure cocaine markets and better statistics of cocaine consumers. But this kind of solution would require big cultural and institutional changes.

For instance, in Uruguay President José Mujica has recently proposed to legalize marijuana consumption and to educate people about this issue, but this proposal will not be able to become law while conservative groups have influence over popular opinion, especially the Catholic Church and right wing parties. In fact, Mujica recognized later that society is not yet ready to this kind of measures.

Another important step has been Bolivian experience during Evo Morales presidency, because his administration recognizes coca leaf farmer rights and coca cultural values. Bolivian policies on coca leaf represent a deep change of mentality since DEA interventions in the country two decades ago, when coca leaf activities were synonymous of crime. But at the same time, the new Bolivian institutional model has not meant the end or decrease of illegal coca leaf planting.

Both Uruguay and Bolivia cases show that, at least, the legalization debate has started. In this sense, maybe the most important signal of a new time has been the Global Commission on Drug Policy, where much respected intellectuals and politicians were able to participate, such as Mario Vargas Llosa, Fernando Enrique Cardoso, César Gaviria, Ernesto Zedillo, Kofi Annan, Paul Volcker and George P. Schultz. In its report (2011) the Commission proposed to create new institutional models around the world in order to legalize drugs. The main argument for this proposal is the failure of drug policies during last fifty years, especially the war against drugs launched by President Nixon; together with this, the commission stated the importance to pay more attention to health programs instead of military policies[6].

Notwithstanding this, all these signals are not enough to take seriously an international legalization model and certainly they are not enough to overcome current military policies as key actions to combat drugs trafficking.

Claudio Coloma is an academic at the University of Santiago of Chile

Notes


[1] IMF-Western Hemisphere Department. Regional Economic Outlook. Washington, D.C. October 2012.

[2] Weisbrot, Mark, Rebecca Ray and Jake Johnston. Bolivia: The Economy During the Morales Administration. Center for Economic and Policy Research. Washington, D.C. December 2009.

[3] Combination of bureaucratic hurdles, complex taxes and insufficient infrastructure. Glickhouse, Rachel. Rousseff Takes on the Infamous “Brazil Cost”. AS/COA. May 22, 2012.

[4] According to IMF “low growth and uncertainty in advanced economies are affecting emerging market and developing economies”. Emerging powers such as China and Brazil are reliant on developed countries, especially USA and UE. IMF. World Economic Outlook. Washington, D.C. October 2012.

[5] IISS. The FARC Files: Venezuela, Ecuador and the Secret Archive of ´Raúl Reyes`. London. 2011.

[6] Informe de la Comisión Global de Políticas de Drogas, junio de 2011, www.globalcommissiondrugs.org

Centro De Investigaciones Y Estudios En Teoría Poscolonial–Conferencia inaugural

CENTRO DE INVESTIGACIONES Y ESTUDIOS EN TEORÍA POSCOLONIAL

TÉRMINOS CLAVES DE LA TEORÍA POSCOLONIAL  LATINOAMERICANA: DESPLIEGUES, MATICES, DEFINICIONES

I Coloquio del Centro de Investigaciones  y Estudios en Teoría Poscolonial, Facultad de Humanidades y Artes, UNR

2, 3 y 4 de julio de 2012
Facultad de Humanidades y Artes
Universidad Nacional de Rosario, Argentina

CONFERENCIA INAUGURAL

DR. GUSTAVO VERDESIO
University of Michigan, Miembro del CIETP

Objetivos  y ejes de reflexión

Este  I  Coloquio  del  Centro  de  Investigaciones y   Estudios  en  Teoría Poscolonial tiene como objetivo abrir un espacio de discusión interdisciplinario e interregional sobre los conceptos y términos claves de la teoría poscolonial, y articular un diálogo crítico sobre los mismos desde el entorno específico de América Latina. Dicho diálogo tendrá como fin matizar las distintas ramas crítico-teóricas  y los campos de aplicación relacionados con esta heterogénea vertiente teórica (tales como la teoría poscolonial latinoamericana, el  giro decolonial, los estudios subalternos, los estudios latinoamericanos, los estudios coloniales),  y cotejar su circulación  y difusión a la luz de la meta más amplia de la descolonización epistémica, disciplinaria  y académica. Nos interesa recibir trabajos que aborden los siguientes ejes, a fines de promover una reflexión crítica colectiva e interdisiciplinaria sobre los mismos.

  • Términos claves de la teoría poscolonial tales como: colonial, imperial, poscolonial, sujeto colonial, hibridez, ambivalencia, entrelugar, subalternidad, diáspora, nación, colonialismo interno, descolonización, etc.
  • La recepción, problematización, formulación y/o reformulación de tales términos en Latinoamérica, a través del estudio crítico de las teorías del grupo colonialidad/modernidad/decolonialidad, tales como colonialidad/modernidad, decolonialidad, liberación, raza, género, imperialismo, subalterno/subalterna, territorio, colonialismo académico, etc.
  • La recepción, problematización, formulación y/o reformulación de tales términos con relación a Latinoamérica, a través del estudio crítico de las teorías del campo interdisciplinario de los estudios coloniales  y poscoloniales latinoamericanos  y sus propios términos claves, tales como discurso colonial, semiosis colonial, discursividad mestiza, discursividad criolla, sujeto colonial, mestizaje, mulatez, sincretismo, transculturación, etc.
  • El impacto de la teoría poscolonial y sus vertientes latinoamericanistas en el ámbito de disciplinas específicas, sus metodologías, sus categorías críticas, y la propuesta transdisciplinaria en este marco, especialmente en el ámbito institucional  y político de las universidades e instituciones académicas latinoamericanas.
  • El impacto del pensamiento decolonial en el arte y la literatura latinoamericanos desde la colonia hasta hoy. Arte, literatura  y subjetividades (pos)coloniales.
  • Problemas, desafíos y ventajas de la inclusión de la teoría poscolonial en sus diferentes vertientes en la currícula universitaria.
  • Problemas de traducción, circuitos de producción y recepción de la teoría poscolonial.

Instrucciones para la inscripción y envío de resumenes y ponencias

Enviar un mensaje de correo electrónico a cietp_unr@hotmail.com. Especificar en asunto del mensaje “Coloquio 2012”
En el cuerpo del mensaje de correo electrónico, por favor consignar los siguientes datos:

1) Nombre completo
2) Afiliación académica y/o pertenencia institucional
3) Dirección Postal
4) Teléfono
5) Email

En un archivo adjunto (.doc o .rtf, por favor no enviar archivos en .docx), guardado bajo título APELLIDODEL AUTOR.doc o APELLIDODEL AUTOR.rtf (por ej. Martínez.doc o Martínez.rtf), incluir:

1) Título
2) Resumen (en castellano  y en inglés)
3) Palabras clave (en castellano  y en inglés)

Fecha límite para la recepción de resúmenes: 30 de abril, 2012

Fecha límite para la recepción de ponencias: 7 de junio, 2012

La propuesta será evaluada  y se comunicará su aceptación antes del 15 de mayo de 2012.

Costo de la inscripción

Aranceles
Expositores/as: Podrá abonarse en la inscripción durante el Coloquio. Nacionales $ 150
Nacionales Estudiantes $ 90
América Latina U$S 65
Otros U$S 100

Asistentes: Será abonado durante los días del Coloquio. Nacionales $ 50.
Nacionales Estudiantes $ 20. América Latina U$S 20. Otros U$S 30.

Publicación de las ponencias
Está prevista la publicación de las actas del Coloquio. Tras la realización del
Coloquio, se enviará la información sobre el modo de presentación de los trabajos para participar de dicha publicación.

Directora
Dra. María Elena Lucero, UNR

Co-Directora
Dra. Laura Catelli, UNR – CONICET

Miembros Adherentes

Dr. Diego Beltrán, UNR
Dr. Alejandro de Oto, INCIHUSA- CCT Mendoza- CONICET Dr. Álvaro Fernández Bravo, Universidad de San Andrés, CONICET
Dra. Cecilia López Badano, Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro, México
Dra. Yolanda Martínez-San Miguel, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Estados Unidos
Dr. José Antonio Mazzotti, Tufts University, Boston, Estados Unidos Asociación Internacional de Peruanistas
Dra. Concepción Pérez Rojas, Universidad de Sevilla, España
Dr. Gustavo Verdesio, University of Michigan, Estados Unidos

Conference on Colonialism and Decolonization

Call for papers.
We are pleased to inform you that the Department of History and Civilization, IIUM, with the collaboration of International Institute of Islamic Thoughts and Civilization (ISTAC) and the National Archives of Malaysia will be organizing the above programme at ISTAC, IIUM KL Campus on 17th-19th April 2012.

We are inviting you to contribute generously by sending abstract to the conference. You may send your paper in English, Arabic and Bahasa Melayu or Indonesia. We have an editorial board to look your abstracts and papers to make them publishable.
Kindly visit our website for further details: www.ICCD2012.com

ASSOC. PROF. DR. ARSHAD ISLAM
Head
Department of History and Civilization
Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge
and Human Sciences

Word, Image, Action: Popular Print And Visual Cultures

FESTIVAL OF IDEAS   
Tuesday 7th June – Wednesday 15th June 2011 

FESTIVAL OPENING @ North Melbourne Town Hall,  Tuesday 7th June, from 6pm
Music by Little John (duo)
2011 Thesis  Eleven Annual Lecture with Ron Jacobs and Eleanor Townsley Media,  Intellectuals and the Public Sphere
Opening Dinner @ The Institute of  Postcolonial Studies 8:40pm (RSVP essential, by 30th May, contact details  below)
PRINT AND VISUAL CULTURES WORKSHOP @ La Trobe  University, Bundoora campus, Wednesday 8th June –Friday 10th, 9:30am –  4/6pm
A 3 day series of lectures, invited papers, plenaries, film  screening, art exhibition, artists discussion, and live performance from punk  art band ‘This Histrionics’.
WIKILEAKS FORUM @ The Wheeler  Centre, Monday 13th June 3-5pm
Does Wikileaks Matter? A forum on  Wikileaks with Robert Manne, Guy Rundle, Peter Vale and Eleanor  Townsley

BAUMAN FORUM AND DOCUMENTARY WORLD PREMIERE
@ State  Library of Victoria, Experimedia Room, Tuesday 14th June, 4-8pm
Half-day  public forum on the work of Zygmunt Bauman with speakers from The Bauman  Institute, Leeds and The Thesis Eleven Centre; followed by world premiere  screening of ‘The Trouble with Being Human These days’ by Director Bartek  Dziadosz. Concludes with reflections on ‘The Trouble with Being Human These  days’ from Zygmunt Bauman in conversation with Keith Tester
trailer: http://www.beinghumanthesedays.com

PUBLIC LECTURES  
Christopher Pinney Impressions of Hell: Printing and Punishment in  India @North Melbourne Church Hall, Saturday 11th June, 7:30pm hosted by  The Institute of Postcolonial Studies
Ron Jacobs The Media Narrative in  the Global Financial Crisis @Melbourne University, Monday 13th June,  6:30pm, followed by dinner and drinks, hosted by the TASA Cultural Sociology  Group
Anders Michelsen Atrocious imagination: the paradox of affect –  the imagination of violence Keynote for Violence and the Imagination  Colloquium@Monash University, Caulfield Campus, Wednesday 15th June, 9  -10:30 am Program: http://arts.monash.edu.au/ecps/conferences/violence-imagination/
PUBLIC FILM SCREENING @State Library of  Victoria, Experimedia Space, Wednesday 8th June, 6 – 8pm
Public screening  of Robert Nery’s documentary ‘In 1966 the Beatles came to Manila’  

ART EXHIBITION: VERNACULAR CULTURES AND CONTEMPORARY ART FROM  AUSTRALIA, INDIA AND THE PHILIPPINES
@LUMA, Glenn College La Trobe  University, Bundoora, Friday, 10th June 4-6pm
Asks how contemporary artists  remobilise vernacular cultures to interrogate and mediate the cultural ethics  of globalisation, as they engage themes including surf culture, tattoo  designs, informal architecture and colloquial language.
Curators Lecture  by Ryan Johnston, and discussion with local artists
With Punk Performance  Band ‘The Histrionics’ and the Boombox Burgers Taco Truck
FILM  AND VIDEO EXHIBITION: A POST BOOM BEIJING @Bendigo Visual Arts Centre,  View Street, Sunday 12th June 12:30 -4pm
Day trip to the Bendigo Visual  Arts Centre, including viewing of Arena: A post boom Beijing, film and  video exhibition.
Curators lecture by Laurens Tan.
WALKING  TOUR: LANEWAYS, STREET ART AND PUBLIC INSTALLATIONS@ Melbourne CBD,  Saturday 11th June, 2-4pm
Walking tour of Melbourne laneways, street art  and installations as well as local art and moving image museums (limited  places available, booking essential. Contact details below)  

MASTERCLASS INTENSIVES FOR POSTGRADUATES
@ La Trobe University  Bundoora, Wednesday 15th June, 10am – 5:30pm
Settler Societies And Popular Culture Various  speakers, including Marilyn Lake, Peter Vale, Patrick Wolfe and Anthony Moran  will discuss the popular cultures of settler societies, exploring issues of  race particularly, and looking comparatively across the experiences of  different settler societies.
Keywords Masterclass   Inspired by Raymond Williams Keywords (1983), thirteen thinkers will talk each about their chosen or nominated keyword, approaching  their topics in terms of traditional keywords (socialism, liberalism); 20th  century innovations (such as the postmodern and schemata); or exploring the  currency of other words (such as utopia, the migrant, regions, urbanism, walking and metanoia).


CONTACT:
Festival of  Ideas Project
Thesis Eleven Centre for Cultural Sociology
La Trobe  University
ph: +613 9479 2700
fax: +613 9479 2705
email: thesis11@latrobe.edu.au <outbind://95/thesis11@latrobe.edu.au>

Coloniality and De-colonial Thinking Workshop (Hong Kong, June 2011)

One of the objectives/themes of the Hong Kong Advanced Institute for Cross-Disciplinary Studies is to examine the construction and the legacies of modern Euro-centered epistemology, especially the links between the development of Western rationalist scientific and technological “advances” and the construction of a differential, hierarchical ordering of peoples and their knowledge. This hierarchy has implicitly engendered colonial and neocolonial violences (both physical and also epistemological); and nowadays in the academic world it is present in the structural asymmetry within the distribution of scientific production between Euro-American intellectual spaces as loci of production of knowledge and the rest of the world reduced to the condition of an object of study or of branches of Euro-centered categories of thoughts and its institutions.

Therefore, we seek to examine various aspects of these epistemological imbalances and to promote a more insightful understanding of global coloniality.  We are interested in examining the epistemic and political potential of geopolitical of knowledge to redress the imbalance that coloniality has created and naturalized. Moreover, the analytic of coloniality is always already de-colonial thinking and it implies going beyond the conformity of established disciplines and their organs of authority. With this in mind, this exploratory workshop invites international researchers known for their engagement with these critical challenges, to lead discussions on coloniality and de-colonial thinking with the objective of finding common grounds, and to explore possibilities of mounting international collaborative research projects.

More information here.

Decolonising our Universities–Penang (June 2011)

International Conference on “Decolonising Our Universities” June 27-29th, 2011, Penang, Malaysia

Multiversity is pleased to announce its Fourth International Conference on the subject of “Decolonising Our Universities” being held in Penang, Malaysia, from June 27-29, 2011.  The conference is being jointly organized by Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) and Citizens International (CI), both based in Penang.

The specific objective of the conference is to provide a platform to scholars, researchers and activists to share work done by them individually or by their departments and institutions on drafting university curricula, syllabuses and courses in social sciences teaching and research that consciously avoid, deny or reject Eurocentric frameworks and assumptions.

The conference is not focused on Eurocentrism itself. The explicit purpose is to encourage academics within the Global South to move out of a Eurocentric worldview in the sphere of knowledge production, especially in the social sciences, and to help regenerate or create fresh models of intellectual enquiry and research more in touch with their own realities and intellectual traditions.

It is an undisputed reality of our times that most academic knowledge has been hegemonized by the western world. The hegemony has extended to even the perception of what constitutes knowledge. This situation of tyranny has prevailed now for over 200 years. Efforts are even now underway to expand further the reach and influence of existing social science models from European and American universities and to intensify dependence of the academic community located within the Global South on these.

There have been several attempts to resist this hegemony in knowledge production and sharing or what Ward Churchill has referred to as the empire of “white studies.” There is an intensive discussion underway on the reality of Eurocentrism and on the baleful distortions that affect knowledge when it is impregnated by such ethnocentric western assumptions and orientations. This  discussion is taking place across the board beginning from anthropology and extending to the media and communications. African scholars, for example, have recently challenged the propriety of teaching traditions of western philosophy contaminated with racism in African universities.

By and large, however, thousands of universities across the Global South have uncritically imported, adopted or inherited the prevailing model of social science research from the European academic community (which, of course, also comprised their erstwhile colonizers). Prestigious universities like Delhi, for example, continue to teach courses in which the bulk of the content is unabashedly imported from the west. This, nearly sixty years of being politically free.

Multiversity – a joint project of Citizens International in Malaysia headed by S.M. Mohammad Idris (also President of the Third World Network), and Other India Press headed by Claude Alvares from India – has held three earlier international conferences to take this discussion and its momentum forward. The first conference was held in 2002, the second in 2006 and the third in August 2010. (See www.multiworldindia.org.) At these conferences several discussions have taken place on these issues and it was therefore resolved to bring together in June this year:

a) Researchers and scholars who have done substantial work in excoriating the ghost of Eurocentrism consciously from their teaching and academic work or institutions;

b) Persons at the university level including Vice Chancellors who might be keen to introduce non-Eurocentric research methodologies in their own universities and departments.

c) Innovators who have ventured beyond the petrified framework of lectures in lecture halls and developed methodologies of learning that once again excite students, enthuse society and economy, and help generate new knowledge that is of use to society as a whole.

For the conference, the Secretariat is preparing for circulation a preliminary Source Book containing the output of scholars and intellectuals who have done work in this specific area. However, Multiversity is also committed – pursuant to the conference – to publishing a volume comprising all the presentations made during the event. This would also perhaps be the first major text reflecting academic attempts emanating from the Global South to depart from the regime of Eurocentric social sciences.

Claude Alvares
Multiversity Coordinator
Goa, India

(For more information about the conference, please visit www.multiworldindia.org, or email: Claude Alvares (goafoundation@gmail.com) or Uma Ramaswamy (idris_md@streamyx.com)

Image courtesy of dennisyu68

Mexico and China – another North in disguise?

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Chinese President Hu Jintao (2nd L) holds talks with Mexican President Felipe Calderon Hinojosa (4th R) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, July 11, 2008.

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Fans of the Chinese and Mexican national teams root for their teams during a soccer match between Mexico and China at Qwest Field.

Romer Alejandro Cornejo Bustamante is Professor of El Colegio de Mexico specialising on China from a Latin American perspective.

1. Can you briefly describe your research

Tengo dos proyectos de investigación, uno es sobre las relaciones entre China y América Latina, con especial énfasis en México, y el otro es sobre los cambios en el sistema político de China.

I have two research projects, one is on the relations between China and Latin America, especially Mexico and the other is on changes in the political system of China.

2. For Mexico, how does the relation to China differ from that towards USA?

Difieren mucho, primero en términos de percepciones, en México ha existido un movimiento racista anti chino en el pasado y aún quedan reminiscencias de ello. Se conoce muy poco sobre China y en todo caso se asumen las posturas que predominan en la prensa internacional. El racismo ha revivido ante una relación comercial  extremadamente deficitaria para México, en muchos sectores hay una percepción de amenaza. En el caso de Estados Unidos la situación es contraria, predomina una gran admiración por el vecino del norte. Gran parte de la elite política y económica ha estudiado, vivido o tiene inversiones en Estados Unidos. Se acepta sin muchos reparos su calidad de potencia mundial. En el pasado la construcción del nacionalismo tenía, entre otros elementos, el anti Estados Unidos, pero esa construcción por muchas razones se ha esfumado.  La relación económica es muy estrecha y con excedente para México.

They differ widely, first in terms of perceptions. In Mexico there was a racist anti-Chinese movement in the past and there are still vestiges of it. Very little is known about China and we mostly take the position prevailing in the international press. Racism has been revived since the extreme commercial deficit in Mexico; in many areas there is a perceived threat. In the United States the situation is contrary, where there is a great admiration for the neighbor to the north. Much of the political and economic elite has studied, lived or has investments in United States. It is accepted without much hesitation as a world power. In the past, the construction of nationalism had, among other things, been anti-US, but for many reasons that focus has vanished. The economic relationship with the US is very close and with a surplus for Mexico.

3. Do you see particular concepts that emerge from Mexican thought that have
relevance beyond Mexico?

No. Por lo menos no en las ciencias sociales, éstas son una calca de las de Estados Unidos y Europa, aún en los estudios subalternos. Tal vez en la creación literaria y artística haya creaciones de relevancia, muy probablemente en lo que concierne a la cultura de frontera, a la asociación entre cultos religiosos y actividades fuera de la ley, en la cultura de las bandas delictivas.

No. At least not in the social sciences, they are a replica of the US and Europe, even in subaltern studies. Perhaps in literary and artistic creations there is relevance, most probably in terms of border culture, the association between religious worship and activities outside the law, in the culture of gangs.

4. What do you think is the usefulness of ‘south’ as framework for
intellectual dialogue?

Creo que es extremadamente útil. Por ejemplo en el trabajo que actualmente hago sobre la relación entre China y América Latina, el diálogo con mis colegas es sumamente difícil pues en su mayoría tienen una perspectiva desde el “norte” con respecto a China, concebida ésta como un “sur” irracional, incapaz, poco creíble y amenazante porque lo ven como un “sur” empoderado. Desde mi perspectiva, China es “norte” venido a menos y en proceso de reivindicación. Esa perspectiva me facilita mucho la comprensión de las decisiones de la elite de ese país. Además la perspectiva del “sur” me remite a planteamientos filosóficos y antropológicos en la explicación de la conducta humana individual y políticamente. Recomiendo repensar algunas cosas a partir de esta película  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0250258/

I think it is extremely useful. For example, in the work we do today on the relationship between China and Latin America, the dialogue with my colleagues is extremely difficult because most have a view from the “north” with respect to China. They conceive it as a “southern” – irrational, incapable, not very credible and threatening because they see it as a “south” power. From my perspective, China is “north” fallen on hard times and in the process of reclaiming its place. That perspective gives me much understanding of the decisions of the elite of that country. Besides, the prospect of the “south” to me refers to philosophical and anthropological approaches to the explanation of human behavior individually and politically. I recommend to rethink some things from this movie http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0250258/

To reform or to start again? An argument across the south

In Kuala Lumpur 24-26 January 2009 there was a south-south event titled The International Conference on Hegemony, Counter Hegemony and Alternatives to Hegemony: Implications for the South. This event was part of a ‘scholarly collaboration program’ between three major academic networks across the South – CODESRIA, APISA and CLACSO. The participants represented a tri-continental range of views, with particularly strong representation from Nigeria, Malaysia, Colombia, Mexico and Argentina.

The session began with an introduction by the organisers, Hari Singh (Malaysia), Adebayo Olukoshi (Nigeria) and Alberto Cimadamore (Argentina). They contextualised this initiative within the  sense of discomfort that the only way colleagues in the South could learn about each other’s counties was through northern centres, such as the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. The aim of this event was to share ideas about the hegemonic relation of North towards South in a broad manner, including perspectives beyond international relations.

So the conference began with a discussion of ‘verticalism’ which explored the cognitive dimension of the South. In discussion, the Western orientation towards the highest point in the landscape was countered by a Botswana perspective, where the top of the hill is considered a lonely place far from the centre of power in the valley. And the Western focus on the setting sun was also differentiated from the Pakistani poetry in praise of the rising sun. This phenomenological approach to the idea of South seemed a fruitful dimension of comparison.

The first of many debates began with the Colombian situation. There were strong differences over whether FARC guerrillas were a spent force in Colombian politics, with one arguing that they had lost support through their violence and another claiming that the issues they represented were still relevant, even though they were denied by the middle class elites that dominated politics.

The second and parallel debate concerned the issue of language. It was proposed that languages in different regions needed to be consolidated around a lingua franca, such as Hausa in West Africa and Swahili in East Africa. This consolidation was seen as necessary to develop regional capacities, though it was countered by a defence of linguistic diversity. This argument seemed to reflect an ongoing division between the realist and romantic positions in the South – whether the answer lay in adapting existing structures of power to Southern interests or in dismantling those structures in themselves.

China was a dominant topic in the second day. It began with a critique of the damage that Chinese imports had inflicted on the Nigerian textile industry. Almost all textile factories have now turned to vegetable oil production.  Part of the problem seemed to lie not just with the Chinese, but also Nigerian entrepeneurs that too often sacrificed quality for the sake of low price. The discussion developed around the hope that China might provide an alternative hegemon to the United States. But it seemed that China had little interest in competing with the US for global leadership, and was simply looking to further its own interests. In the course of this discussion the positive dimension of hegemony was revealed as the promise of a leadership that would seek to establish common interests. The broad argument between reformist and revolutionary positions raised the question whether the solution was to establish a new fairer hegemon or try to find an alternative to hegemony per se.

During the course of these discussions, questions were often raised about the meaning of South. What is the ideological link between countries of the South? Is there a common interest beyond contestation of the global hierarchy? It seemed in this context that the idiomatic use of the word ‘South’ played a important role in opening up the problem of global equity. ‘South’ provides a more neutral identity than the negative concepts such as ‘developing’ or ‘third’ world. But giving identity to this ‘South’ is an important challenge that still lies ahead. Future discussions are likely to be around the ethical dimension of the southern perspective.

Finally, there was discussion about Australia’s position as a country of the geographical South yet of the Global North. Australia’s ongoing perspective on these issues, particularly from a Pacific point of view, was warmly welcomed.

Presenters included Franca Attoh Chitoh (Nigeria), Olga Castillo-Ospina (Colombia), Romer Cornejo (Mexico), Jerónimo Delgado (Colombia), Gladys Hernández (Cuba), Brendan Howe (South Korea), Ijaz Khan (Pakistan), Bárbara Medwid (Argentina), Lipalile Mufana (Zambia), Kevin Murray (Australia), Kolawole Olu-Owolabi (Nigeria), and Kenneth Simala (Kenya)

The paper on ‘verticalism’ is available here.

Journal of Alternative Perspectives in the Social Sciences

JAPSS Press, a branch of the Journal of Alternative Perspectives in the Social Sciences is calling for chapter proposals for an Edited Volume dealing with Regionalism and Development in the Asia Pacific Region. Some possible topics are the following:
- South to South Cooperation
- International Norms and Regionalism in the Asia Pacific Region
- Globalization and Regionalism
- Development
- Human Rights and Regionalism
- Cultural Change and Regionalism
The book will be published under the name of the Journal and will be distributed in the United States and the World. The expenses for this project will be covered by the Journal and its supporting organizations. Editorial work will be undertaken by qualified scholars affiliated with the Journal. This is a wonderful opportunity for junior scholars and scholars from the developing world to share their research with the wider academic community.
If interested please submit a short abstract of the proposed chapter in addition to a brief resume to the Editor in Chief of the Journal.
Otto F. von Feigenblatt,
Editor in Chief, Journal of Alternative Perspectives in the Social Sciences
Email: journalalternative@hotmail.com
Visit the website at http://www.japss.org