A Political Geography of Latin America

A Political Geography of Latin America

A Political Geography of Latin America

A Political Geography of Latin America

Synopsis

The nation-states and peoples of the political region of Latin America encompass a wide range of societies, politics and economies. This book examines their differences, offering an insight into the themes of political and economic development.

Excerpt

Latin America is a continent of diversity with a wide range of societies, polities and economies. Any discussion of it must therefore be preceded by the caveat that the nation-states and peoples of South and Central America, Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic (which together form the political geographical units of Latin America) are highly heterogeneous. This political geography of Latin America seeks to reveal these differences and how they are manifested spatially, between places, regions and countries.

With such a starting point, it is possible to overcome the stereotyping and simplifications inherent in generalisations about the continent. Stereotypes of dictatorship and terrorism, ‘banana republics’, shanty town poverty and ‘the Latin character’ serve only to obscure the realities and complexities of Latin American life. From the Antarctic to the tropical jungles, the coastal communities to the highland villages, from the mega-cities to isolated rural existences, the political geographies of everyday lives, of localities, of cities, of rurality, and of the nation-state are too sophisticated to be subjected to allencompassing, and often erroneous, generalisations. A more critical analysis of similarities and differences, and constructions and representations of peoples and places, leads to a clearer understanding of these sophisticated political geographies. For this reason, a critical human geography perspective is adopted in this text to examine and explain differences between peoples and places.

Apart from the clear differences between nation-states within the continent, a political geography of Latin America must also recognise diversity at other scales. While nation-states exhibit differences within and between urban centres, rural areas, and within and between the peoples and societies that exist at provincial, municipal and community levels, it is also important to recognise that individuals have personal political geographies, and that villages and cities have political geographies. For this reason, it must be recognised that an analysis of the Latin American nation-state is not the same as an analysis of Latin America’s political geography. By contrasting peoples and places, statements may be made about the continent and its constituents (people and places) regarding history, social development and change,

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