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Global South Powers in Transition

A Comparative Analysis of Mexico and South Africa

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Edited By Deon Geldenhuys and Humberto González

Employing a novel collaborative transnational methodology, this ground-breaking book presents the first comprehensive and systematic comparison of Mexico and South Africa. Although geographically, historically and diplomatically far apart, Mexico and South Africa are ambitious and influential powers in the Global South and also experience wide-ranging domestic transitions. A binational team of 26 researchers from the two countries, all specialists in their respective disciplines, probe the transitions that Mexico and South Africa are undergoing in areas such as socio-cultural diversity, domestic politics, economic development, labour dynamics, social and territorial inequality, food security, crime and violence, and foreign relations. The detailed country studies allow the authors to identify striking similarities but also profound differences between the two societies. In so doing, the book helps to explain Mexico and South Africa to each other but also to the world at large.

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Foreword by Professor Chris Landsberg, SARChI Chair in African Diplomacy and Foreign Policy, University of Johannesburg

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Here is an original, comparative study that grew out of a conference of the RISC research consortium. At a time when we are flooded with analyses of the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) grouping, it is refreshing to see scholars from Mexico and South Africa conducting comparative work identifying the convergences and divergences between two unique countries. While both Mexico and South Africa qualify to be dubbed emerging powers (or pivotal states), very little scholarly work has been done about the two in a comparative fashion. This is definitely an area that merits expanded research and inquiry, something the book does in admirable fashion.

As gleaned from the title of the book, the editors depict Mexico and South Africa as powers from the Global South, suggesting that they are powers in relation to states in their respective near-abroad and to some other states. Mexico and South Africa indeed have reason to regard themselves as regional anchor states or pivots – based on their population size, relative land size and gross domestic product, as well as the roles they play in their respective sub-regions. Both countries are members of the G20 and feature in the NationMaster inventory of 25 “emerging markets”. There is much interest in their role orientations in the global arena, and whether or not they punch above their weight, or whether the scholarly and policy hype about them is warranted.

From a South African vantage point, its position in the Southern African sub-region is especially...

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