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Volume 59 / Social Sciences


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

MATURITY IN THE HANDLING of earth sciences and travel descriptions, but tiring repetitiousness in the treatment of national development and regional planning characterize the entries included in HLAS 59. The maturity is evinced in the utilization of modern methods of geographical analysis and the proposition of novel views of spatial interpretation, while the repetitiousness surfaces in calls for intervention by the state as the ultimate controller of national issues. Although in numerous instances the incompetence, carelessness, and venality of state functionaries are decried, many authors remain convinced that the government should be the major player in national affairs. This, I think, comes from the fact that, particularly in Uruguay and Argentina, and to a lesser degree in Chile, the bureaucratic tradition is still deeply entrenched.

Three themes command the attention of researchers. Clearly on top are the economic and political implications of the implementation of Mercosur, a project for which the expectations and hopes are as high as they were for the Latin America Free Trade Area in the early 1950s, and whose outcome might be equally disappointing. The second theme addresses environmental conservation and the protection of natural resources, both of which show high levels of neglect. Many of the works surveyed in this issue report on the state of native and planted forests in Argentina and Chile, an indication of the dimensions of these resources and their implications for the economic development in South America. The third theme has to do with social inequality and its spatial reflections in poor neighborhoods, residential segregation, and occupation of hazardous areas by low-income families. Linked to this is the uneasiness with which some Argentine writers view the inflow of illegal immigrants from neighboring countries (items #bi 98002684# and #bi 98009807#).

Although there is a general feeling of anticipation surrounding future international integrations, a latent envy surfaces as soon as it becomes evident that powerful neighbors might profit from a particular project. So, for example, heated controversy surrounds the projected bridge between Colonia and Buenos Aires, with the most parochial reactions coming from Uruguayans who see their cozy way of life jeopardized by the more flamboyant Argentine way. Also conspiring against regional unity are the dated calls to reignite old border disputes between Chile and Argentina (items #bi 98008778# and #bi 98008891#). Fortunately, some geopoliticians begin to see the mutual benefits of regional integration (item #bi 97014505#) and, rejecting past feuds, advocate peace and complementary action. Remarkable among the latter are the work compiled by Pablo Lacoste (item #bi 00000850#) and the book Chile y Argentina: La cordillera que nos une (item #bi 98008739#).

"Sustainability" and "globalization" are frequently used by authors who do not have a full grasp of these concepts and are carried away into repeating common phrases (items #bi 99002956# and #bi 98015340#). One hopes that such indiscriminate use will decline as self-criticism increases. Several Chilean authors oppose any modernization project—decrying the evils of developmentalism—while, at the same time, they seem eager to partake of the benefits of economic growth (items #bi 97016062#, #bi 97016052#, and #bi 98008797#).

Studies about wine-growing landscapes are very well represented, probably a reflection of the considerable growth of the wine-exporting industries in Argentina and Chile. The fact that senior and seasoned geographers, such as María Furlani (item #bi 98012460#) and Eduardo Pérez (item #bi 97014220#) are among those covering the subject, attests to the expansion of this delectable trade.

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