South America has been conspicuously absent in the recent literature on nationalism and boundary studies. Such inattention is understandable if one considers the fact that the subcontinent has not recently been shaken by anything as dramatic as the breakup of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, or the development of separatist nationalist movements as in Great Britain, Western Europe, and Canada. The lack of attention to South America can be additionally explained by the image of the region as an area where boundary problems can be resolved in a rational and peaceful manner. When compared to Africa, for example, South American territorial boundaries demand less attention because they are widely perceived as less artificial, more natural, and reflective of deeper historical traditions. They are viewed as being more stable than the rest of the world. As a result, the political map of South America is commonly seen as one of those uninteresting realities where change is not expected.
I argue that a “critical political perspective” of South American territorial boundaries is needed. This is warranted, first, because territorial boundaries play a crucial role in the outbreak of military conflicts. Of the twenty-five international territorial boundaries that exist in South America,
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Publication information: Book title: The Politics of South American Boundaries. Contributors: Carlos A. Parodi - Author. Publisher: Praeger. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 2002. Page number: xi.
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