Why do regional organizations overlap? Some insights from South America
Two elements define regional integration in Latin America: its extension in time and its pluralism. Whereas regionalism spans its history, starting in the 1990s, new organizations were constructed and old ones were reconstructed and reframed as countries pursued a multitier strategy of trade liberalization. With the turn of the century, the picture gained in complexity since new projects moved beyond traditional free trade issues to embrace cooperation in broader economic, political and social policy areas. In all, Latin American regionalism can be defined by a pluralism of regional organizations, including complementary and competing ones. The proliferation and overlap of organizations is certainly one of the most puzzling features of regionalism. The literature has paid increasing attention to the overlap and interaction among existing regional organizations and has thus attempted to assess whether this overlap may have either positive or negative effects on regional cooperation. Yet, little is known about why regional organizations overlap. The paper goes back to explore foundational moments when regional cooperation initiatives were set up and analyze the material, ideational and institutional legacies shaping the strategies of actors involved in the process of institution creation. Focus is on South America, which displays a complex mosaic of old, new, and even newer projects of regional cooperation. The paper intends thus to contribute a more nuanced understanding of what seems a rather underexplored issue: why regional organizations overlap in Latin America.
Andrea C. Bianculli is Juan de la Cierva-Incorporación Fellow at the Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals (IBEI) since November 2015. Her research crosses international and comparative political economy, and lies in the areas of global and regional governance, trade politics, regulation and development, with a focus on the Americas. Previously, she held a Post-doctoral Fellowship at the Research College 'The Transformative Power of Europe', Freie Universität Berlin, and research positions at IBEI and FLACSO-Argentina. Andrea has a PhD in Political and Social Sciences (Universitat Pompeu Fabra) and holds a Master's Degree in International Relations (Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales/FLACSO-Argentina). Her book ‘Negotiating Trade Liberalization in Argentina and Chile. When Policy creates Politics’, forthcoming with Routledge, builds on her PhD dissertation, which received a Special Mention of the Juan Linz Prize 2010-2011 for the Best Doctoral Dissertation in Political Science granted by the Centro de Estudios Políticos y Constitucionales. She is currently leading a research project on 'Regional Social Regulation in Latin America: A New Agenda for Development? Prospects and Challenges' (SociAL-Reg), funded by the Ministry of Science and Innovation (CSO2015-66411-P).
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