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Global South Powers in Transition

A Comparative Analysis of Mexico and South Africa


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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Humberto González and Deon Geldenhuys

It is no mean task to draw conclusions from the wide range of contributions presented by specialists from different disciplines, using distinct theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches, and, moreover, hailing from two distant societies. Instead of imposing an overarching theoretical framework within which to compare the processes of transition in Mexico and South Africa, we as editors chose to adopt a collaborative transnational methodology. This enabled an open transnational and transdisciplinary dialogue between researchers from the two countries. We also steered clear of conducting a study of transition based on a linear analysis of the histories of South Africa and Mexico, which would have led us to defining parallel sequences and identifying causes and effects in the emergence of two countries in the Global South. As explained in the Introduction, we gave the concept of transition an open rather than normative meaning to exploit its heuristic value. We also avoided the application of models of order, power, equilibrium or growth, which would have made it easier to systematise and compare data from the two countries and to determine which of them was more or less powerful, violent, efficient or dynamic.

Every one of the 10 key issue-areas was studied by experts from the respective countries. The authors themselves decided on the most appropriate contents, indicators and periods of time for conducting comparative country studies. Our collaborative transnational methodology facilitated a phenomenological analysis that highlighted singularities and regularities but...

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