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Volume 51 / Social Sciences


CESAR CAVIEDES, Professor of Geography, University of Florida, Gainesville

GEOPOLITICS CONTINUES TO DOMINATE the geographical literature of the Southern cone, including works published by North American scientists which are exemplified by the compilation of papers edited by Philip Kelly and Jack Child (item bi 91000864) on the Southern Cone's geopolitical interest in the Antarctic. The large number of Argentine geopolitical works reflect the extensive revision and criticism which are being conducted by national social scientists on the consequences of long years of pervasive militarism.

There is also a considerable number of studies on boundaries written from a historical perspective which emphasize the significance of boundaries for contemporary regional development and for international relations.

Argentina and Chile, two nations that can boast of a rigorous tradition in geographic studies, have produced a good number of contributions designed to reaffirm the values expounded by previous geoscientists. The tendency begun in the 1980s to investigate the past and present of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego continues (items bi 89000628 and bi 89000638). This interest may be a sign of a persistent territorial awareness and of the interest in that depopulated but geopolitically important region that emerged even before the Falkland/Malvinas War.

Another leading topic in Argentine geographical studies is the proposed relocation of the federal capital to Viedma/Patagones. This proposal prompted a national debate on the pros and cons of such a move and a revision of the successes and failures of federalism, a subject on which several Argentine geographical experts have taken a stand (item bi 91003909, bi 91003924, and bi 88001052).

Mapping environmental deterioration and natural resources as well as writing historical place sketches and descriptions of urban centers continue to be traditional concerns of Argentine geographers. A laudable attempt at modernizing geographical literature is exemplified by Zamorano et al.'s excellent paper on environmental perception (item bi 91004111), which applies modern tools of inquiry to the study of landscapes. Bruniard's paper on snow and climate (item bi 91004049) is another remarkable piece of research that confirms the progress of the discipline in Argentina. Additional evidence of the advances of geography in this nation are apparent in the publications by leading figures such as Reboratti, Bruniard, Rey Balmaceda, Rocatagliatta, and Furlani de Civit. One must also mention the outstanding contributions of women to Argentine geography; probably no other country of the world has such a steady flow of scholarly publications by female geographers.

Chilean geographical literature is well balanced in its coverage of regional, historical and systematic works. Two excellent contributions to social geography are Scarpaci's book on health care access (item bi 91004151) and De Ramón's article on Santiago in the 19th century (item bi 91004149). Natural environment studies are also well represented with papers on vegetation, earthquakes, tsunamis, palaeoclimatology, and structural geology. Endlicher's exhaustive research on environmental deterioration in southern Central Chile, the flagship of his numerous publications (item bi 91003937), deserves special mention. A comparison of two books, one by Lavin (item bi 91003939) and another by Gómez and Echenique (item bi 91003938) on the performance of contemporary Chilean agriculture is strongly recommended for those wishing to look behind the "official story."

Uncharacteristically, Paraguay is represented in this Handbook by a relatively large number of entries, a reflection of the upsurge of interest in regional studies among national scholars and the mounting interest of foreign scientists in the nation. Major research subjects are agrarian colonization, environmental deterioration, and historical accounts of the land. The number of studies by German geographers is notable indeed (items bi 89000073 and bi 89000074) as is a major contribution by the Dutch geographer Kleinpenning on agrarian development (item bi 89000642).

As usual, there continues to be little published on the geography of Uruguay. Publications worth mentioning are the contribution by Panario (item bi 91004447), who presents a geomorphological regionalization of the country; Canton and Daroczi's paper on Montevideo's urban sprawl from 1966-82 (item bi 88001269), and the three urban studies edited by Mertins (item bi 91003983).

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