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Volume 57 / Social Sciences


SCOTT D. TOLLEFSON, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Kansas State University

BRAZIL’S INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS LITERATURE is dominated this biennium by the theme of integration. This is a reflection of Brazil’s membership, along with Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay, in Mercosul (Bolivia and Chile are associate members) [see (item bi 97001380)]. The literature on integration, however, is at times euphoric, lacking healthy skepticism. A prominent exception is (item bi 95019428).

Discussions of integration are not limited to Mercosul. Many focus on the relationship between Mercosul and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) (item bi 96003114), and Brazil’s attempts to delay broader implementation of this agreement. Some studies examine integration efforts in the Amazon region, and Brazil’s relations with other areas of the world (item bi 95020037).

A second major theme concerns Brazil’s position within the changing international system. Diplomats from Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Relations are among the most astute writers on this topic. Perhaps the most important volumes in this field are those edited by Gelson Fonseca and Sergio Henrique Nabuco de Castro (item bi 97001383). Other important works are those published by the Ministry of Foreign Relations (item bi 97001377) and Ricardo Antônio Seitenfus (item bi 96003123).

A third, more traditional area of study is Brazil’s bilateral relations, especially those with the United States. Maria Helena Tachinardi avoids the dominant diplomatic history approach to provide the most fascinating book on the topic. She focuses on the “war of the patents” waged between the United States and Brazil (item bi 96003120). Brazil’s relations with Germany are also the topic of several studies (see, for example, item bi 96003706), as are Brazil’s relations with the People’s Republic of China, Japan, and various African countries.

Other prominent themes include the relationship between Brazil’s environmental policies and the international system; geopolitics (item bi 97001388); and external security (items bi 96010772, bi 96010765, bi 94096790). René Armand Dreifuss has authored a particularly good study of Brazil’s maritime policies (item bi 96010767).

In conclusion, the literature on Brazil’s international relations is improving, demonstrating greater theoretical and methodological rigor. The gradual shift from descriptive diplomatic histories to more scholarly analyses augurs well for future studies.

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