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Volume 53 / Social Sciences

GEOGRAPHY: THE SOUTHERN CONE


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

ESTABLISHED TRENDS IN GEOGRAPHIC STUDIES published in the Southern Cone countries continue as noted in previous volumes of the Handbook. Chilean and Argentine publications are superior in terms of quality and quantity, while geographic works from Uruguay and Paraguay lag considerably compared to both Chile and Argentina. As in previous years, contributions from English and North American authors have diminished while those from German and French geographers have kept a constant pace.

An exception to this rule is the unusually high number of publications dealing with the Malvinas/Falkland War. It is difficult to assess whether this reflects genuine interest in interpreting the causes and consequences of the conflict or simply an attempt by publishing houses to prolong the sales windfall prompted by the conflict in England, the US, and Argentina. The dubious quality of some of the contributions tends to support the second interpretation. There are, nevertheless, some valuable additions to the existing literature. Mates and muchachos by Nora Kinzer-Stewart (item bi 92020004) is a piercing study on motivations and preparedness of the British and Argentine troops that battled over the Malvinas. The volume Malvinas hoy: herencia de un conflicto edited by Borón and Faúndez (item bi 92019934) contains several fine contributions on the military frenzy that led to the armed confrontation.

While antagonism and aggressiveness were the tenor of early Argentine geopolitical writings, the reader is astounded by the diversity of the Argentine contributions on binational cooperation. Several authors deal honestly with improving trade with Brazil (items bi 92007297, bi 92007295, and bi 92007296) and others underline the communality of efforts directed towards attracting more tourists into the southern and lake districts of Argentina and Chile (items bi 91008721 and bi 92007318). Also, several Argentine and Chilean publications have recast the old geopolitical view of contiguous seas as strategic space to view them as a source of poorly tapped resources. Remarkable among the latter is a collection of articles dealing with biotic resources of the Pacific (item bi 92007294) and a superbly presented volume on the oceanic islands off the coast of central and northern Chile (item bi 92007310).

Beyond emphasizing traditional geographical research, regional investigations in Argentina and Chile have become integrated works of planners, regional economists, and urbanists using a broader approach to the region than that originally practiced by geographers. The best among these contributions is Vapnarsky's study on the expansion of economic and human space in the upper reaches of the Río Negro (item bi 91008686). Chilean urbanists and architects have produced numerous works on regional analysis and landscape perception, in which a vitalized direction in landscape appreciation emerges, very much in tune with European intellectual tradition.

New avenues of investigation have been applied to the study of electoral research. The Chilean plebiscites of 1980, 1988, and the presidential/congressional elections of 1989 are subjected to geographical analysis (item bi 91025349), and two monographs try to throw light on the political reactions of Montevideans, isolating them from the rest of Uruguay (items bi 92007304 and bi 92007314). These are novel additions to the field of political investigation, formerly the domain of political scientists. Perhaps this innovative character is responsible for the lack of scientific sophistication evinced by the Uruguayan works that insist more on image than substance, while the book on Chile evinces methodological complexity in its handling of the data and a much wider scope in its reaches.

Continuing a tradition established during the last decade, numerous works on Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego were published in Argentina and Chile. Most of them deal with historical topics, others with the natural world, and some consider the Patagonian geographical space as an integrated whole. Remarkable among the latter are the contributions of Cepparo de Grosso (items bi 91025684 and bi 92019632) which are penetrating, methodologically sound, and offer intelligent interpretations. For the aficionado of historical treatments of the harsh Tierra del Fuego environment, the facsimile reprint of the classical work of E. Lucas Bridges, Uttermost part of the earth: Indians of Tierra del Fuego (item bi 91008722), is a delight.


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