Region, regionness and regionalism in Latin America: towards a new synthesis
New Political Economy, 17, (4), . (doi:10.1080/13563467.2011.603827).
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Latin American regional governance today represents a conglomerate of commercial, political, and trans-societal welfarist integration projects. In this overlapping and sometimes conflicting scenario what Latin Americanness should mean, and how integration projects should respond to current challenges of global political economy, are being redefined.
The focus of the paper is twofold: to better understand current regional transformations; and to discuss what new developments mean for how we theorise non-European regionalism. Looking at the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) we ask: How are we to understand regional agreements that are grounded in different systems of rules, alternative ideas and motivations that contest ‘open regionalism’? We argue that UNASUR and ALBA represent different pathways to regional building, creating foundations for post-hegemonic and post-trade regional governance. We thus challenge New Regionalist approaches that assume regionalism as taking place within and modelled by neoliberal economics, establishing the debate around 'old' vs 'new' regionalism. As these categories are limited to grasp the full meaning and implications of post-hegemonic regional orders, we discuss UNASUR and ALBA as ‘arenas for action’ to understand divergent practices, outcomes and types of regionness emerging in alternative regional spaces in South America
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