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Volume 61 / Social Sciences

GEOGRAPHY: THE SOUTHERN CONE


C&Eapos;SAR N. CAVIEDES, Professor of Geography, University of Florida, Gainesville


THE PRODUCTION OF MATERIALS that can be termed geographical has ebbed substantially during the period comprised by this report (1999 to early 2004). Works by North American authors are all but absent, and so would be European contributions were it not for a series of remarkable publications by active researchers from Austria, headed by Axel Borsdorf (items #bi2004002688#, #bi2004003195#, and #bi2004002689#).

No more auspicious is the output of South American specialists; the number of books and articles focusing on the Southern Cone has shrunk with respect to previous issues of the Handbook. It seems that these authors have, once again, become confined within their national boundaries without considering their insertion within the region. When trying to escape from this narrow scope, they dwell on obsolete border quarrels (see item #bi2002004335#).

Argentine social scientists have concentrated their attention on the transformation of urban environments and on the unveiling of inequalities that point to a deterioration of the human condition in the country. An example of this is the proliferation of gated communities as a response to the rise of urban crime and the ensuing sense of fear and insecurity in the larger cities (see items #bi2001004825# and #bi2004003196#). Researchers on the fringes of economics insist that many of the prevailing economic evils stem from neoliberalism and private enterprise and continue to see the solution for most of the country's socioeconomic ills in governmental intervention, failing to recognize that bureaucratic corruption and rampant embezzlement have chronically perverted this type of dependency. Contributions on tourist destinations and environmental deterioration as a consequence of recreational activities are also well represented in this issue, a tribute to the Argentine middle classes' increasing mobility through motorization (item #bi 99004097#).

Chilean geographers have been quite prolific in the field of natural environments and conservation with excellent contributions on the glaciology of the country (items #bi2004002666# and #bi2004002665#) and on vegetation encroachment (item #bi2001006685#). Notwithstanding the alleged socialist tilt of recent administrations (item #bi2001002659#), urban analysts continue to bewail city growth and land speculation within the country's capitalist climate (item #bi2001004815#).

The faint interest demonstrated by local and foreign scholars in Paraguay and Uruguay explains the scarcity of items on these countries. Still, the compilation of vignettes on varied landscapes in Paraguay collected by Ramón Fogel is exemplary (item #bi2001007539#).


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