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Volume 57 / Social Sciences

GEOGRAPHY: THE SOUTHERN CONE


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


AFTER YEARS DURING WHICH GEOPOLITICS and the Falklands/Malvinas War dominated the bibliography about the Southern Cone, the emphasis has shifted to concern over the quality of the environment. Several entries from Argentina and Chile demonstrate this current preoccupation. Journalistic treatments that dwell on the dark aspects of this problem abound subtracting value from the serious situation. Works on subjects concerning urban and regional planning, particularly in Argentina and Chile are clearer and less-biased (items bi 93016733, bi 94010739, bi 94013688, and bi 94013714).

The controversy in Southern Cone countries about the long-lasting economic advantages and environmental impact of forestry is growing. The development of this sector of extractive resources began in Chile under the rule of Gen. Pinochet. Since Chile has considerable potential in this sector, the economic project of Pinochet’s government was to promote the planting of pine and eucalyptus and expand the controlled exploitation of natural forests for timber, pulp, and wood chips. After more than a decade of expansion, forest products have become an important component of the Chilean export economy. Numerous entries document the controversy over this controlled development. The expansion is praised by entrepreneurs but decried and criticized by conservationists. A similar trend is emerging in Uruguay. Conservationists who do not approve of the successful Chilean model are opposing forestation projects since the country’s natural forests are all but gone and the soil is seriously eroded.

Works of truly geographical character are scarce. In Argentina there is some high quality geographical production, particularly one book of economic geography (item bi 94013705), articles about communications systems and squatter settlements edited by Furlani di Civit (items bi 93014428 and bi 94007961), an innovative paper synthesizing the geography of the country (item bi 94013710), and a noteworthy monograph on San Luis (item bi 94013642). In Chile the most notable geographic works have been produced on the demographic characteristics and development of the country (items bi 94010733, bi 94010339, and bi 94010732).

Continuing a trend established in the 1980s, works on Southern Cone countries written by North American geographers are totally absent. This neglect mirrors the interest of US and Canadian governments and development agencies toward this area of Latin America now that authoritarian regimes are gone and the threat of Communism has vanished. Contributions by French researchers are also rare, but German research is better represented, especially on Argentine and Uruguayan subjects.


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