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Volume 51 / Social Sciences


DAMIAN FERNANDEZ, Assistant Professor of International Relations, Florida International University

ALTHOUGH SOME RECENT STUDIES on the international relations of the Caribbean and the Guianas have added new dimensions to the field, by and large the latest literature can be characterized as more of the same. The new, and generally positive, contributions revolve around the following issue areas: 1) Venezuelan foreign policy toward the Caribbean (items bi 88002560, bi 88002561, and bi 88002563); 2) Haiti's international relations (items bi 88002101 and bi 88003179); 3) regional contacts with extra-regional actors, specifically the Middle East and Africa (items bi 88002028 and bi 91000339); and 4) the publication of important and heretofore unavailable documents from countries in the region, particularly the Dominican Republic (items bi 88002034 and bi 91000338). In terms of approaches, valuable contributions have been made in the areas of perceptions and the international behavior of States (item bi 88002562), the impact of bureaucratic politics and decision-making on foreign policy (item bi 89002951), and the relevance of leadership analysis and psychology to an understanding of foreign policy (items bi 88002093 and bi 88002562). The best of the recent works are characterized by a tone of moderation and a sense of balance.

Traditional features predominate in the literature produced during this biennium. US policy toward the region continues to capture the limelight. By extension, the geopolitical-security approach to hemispheric relations has been the point of departure of many a study. Cuba (e.g., items bi 88002035 and bi 91000337), Grenada (item bi 90007918), and US policy toward the region (from a narrow international perspective East-West or North-South axes) command a disproportionate amount of attention, while perennial gaps in scholarship remain. Studies of the Dominican Republic, the Guianas (item bi 88002057) and the English-speaking Caribbean are few and far between. Comparative case studies are virtually non-existent.

In the final analysis, what strikes the reviewer first is that proliferation of the literature has not ushered in solutions to the real-life international problems of the region. Second, the literature lags behind the cutting edge of political science/international relations research. And, third, scholars seem to be caught in primitive conceptual jails which hide ideological preferences and at times are far removed from the dramatic changes sweeping global politics.

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