Experimenting with Center-Periphery: How Latin Americans Created an International Political Economy of Development

Saturday, January 7, 2017: 2:30 PM
Mile High Ballroom 4A (Colorado Convention Center)
Margarita Fajardo, Sarah Lawrence College
Launching the center-periphery analysis, the iconic manifesto of 1949 cast the development project of the Latin American social scientists and policymakers as the pursuit of a regional model and local path to economic growth and financial stability. Seemingly in keeping with economic nationalism, these social scientists rejected the tenets of classical liberalism and advocated for industrialization and larger state intervention. Yet, to understand the Latin American development trajectory, these social scientists produced concepts that went beyond the inward-looking nationalism. Instead, they situated development in a global scale through concepts such as external vulnerability, structural disequilibria, center-periphery, and dependency. Nonetheless, these ideas were also grounded on national policy experiments that in turn gave rise to the notion of a regional economic structure. The problem of scale is therefore formative of their thought and practices. Coming mostly from Southern cone countries and drawing heavily on their national experiences, these social scientists made the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLA), the institutional stronghold for a project that has been both praised and vilified for its local underpinnings. Specifically, by tracing the changes in the scale of the center-periphery framework, I will show that more than a methodological choice moving across scales is key to understand the Latin American experience with development. Scales of intervention were the objects of development analysis as much as the spheres across which social scientists attempted to make development happen. The result was a framework of local economic knowledge produced through global means as well as ideas about the world produced from a regional perspective.
<< Previous Presentation | Next Presentation