Literary and Critical Theory Global South
by
Anne Garland Mahler
  • LAST REVIEWED: 25 October 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 October 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780190221911-0055

Introduction

The Global South as a critical concept has three primary definitions. First, it has traditionally been used within intergovernmental development organizations—primarily those that originated in the Non-Aligned Movement—to refer to economically disadvantaged nation-states and as a post–Cold War alternative to “Third World.” However, within a variety of fields, and often within literary and cultural studies, the Global South has been employed in a postnational sense to address spaces and peoples negatively impacted by contemporary capitalist globalization. In this second definition, the Global South captures a deterritorialized geography of capitalism’s externalities and means to account for subjugated peoples within the borders of wealthier countries, such that there are Souths in the geographic North and Norths in the geographic South. While this usage relies on a longer tradition of analysis of the North’s geographic Souths—wherein the South represents an internal periphery and subaltern relational position—the epithet “global” is used to unhinge the South from a one-to-one relation to geography. It is through this deterritorial conceptualization that a third meaning is attributed to the Global South, in which it refers to the resistant imaginary of a transnational political subject that results from a shared experience of subjugation under contemporary global capitalism. This subject is forged when the world’s Souths mutually recognize one another and view their conditions as shared. The use of the Global South to refer to a transnational political subjectivity under contemporary capitalist globalization draws from the rhetoric of the so-called Third World Project, or the non-aligned and radical internationalist discourses of the Cold War. In this sense, the Global South may productively be considered a direct response to the category of postcoloniality in that it captures both a political subjectivity and ideological formulation that arises from lateral solidarities among the world’s multiple “Souths” and that moves beyond the analysis of colonial difference within postcolonial theory. Critical scholarship that falls under the rubric Global South is invested in the analysis of the formation of a Global South subjectivity, the study of power and racialization within global capitalism in ways that transcend the nation-state as the unit of comparative analysis, and in tracing contemporary South-South relations—or relations among subaltern groups across national, linguistic, racial, and ethnic lines—as well as the histories of those relations in prior forms of South-South exchange.

Introductory Works

Included here is an introductory bibliography for those new to the concept and its history. Brandt 1980 and South Commission 1990 are the most recognizable development texts that first employ a North-South global divide. However, the framing of global economic and power relations in North-South terms has deeper roots in Cold War internationalisms, a history that is discussed in Prashad 2012 and Mahler 2015. Mahler specifically addresses the way this critical concept both draws on and diverges from postcolonial theory. López 2007 and Klengel and Wallner 2016 are the best starting points for understanding the Global South as a framework for critical inquiry. Connell 2007 and Comaroff and Comaroff 2012 introduce the notion of Southern theory. Dados and Connell 2012 is a brief but comprehensive overview of the concept and its origins, and Milian 2013 uses the Global South and Southern theory to make new interventions into both US southern studies and Latino studies.

  • Brandt, Willy. North-South: A Programme for Survival; Report of the Independent Commission on International Development Issues. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 1980.

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    The Brandt Report—published by the Brandt Commission—is a series of recommendations for mutually beneficial cooperation between wealthy and poor nations. It describes economic disparity as a loose division between countries geographically located in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, with the exception of Australia and New Zealand and the liminal positionality of China and eastern Europe. Countries considered within the South generally mirror member countries of the Non-Aligned Movement.

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  • Comaroff, Jean, and John L. Comaroff. Theory from the South: Or, How Euro-America is Evolving towards Africa. Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2012.

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    This book begins with a nationally scaled understanding of the Global South, drawing an equivalence with the former Third World. Yet the authors eventually nuance this definition, explaining that “‘the label bespeaks a relation, not a thing in or for itself” (p. 47). It is ultimately “a spatio-temporal order made of a multitude of variously articulated flows and dimensions, at once political, juridical, cultural, material, virtual” (p. 47).

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  • Connell, Raewyn. Southern Theory: The Global Dynamics of Knowledge in Social Science. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2007.

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    An overview of what has become known as “Southern theory,” which Connell uses to refer to the theorizing that has emerged from the world’s multiple peripheries since the second half of the 20th century.

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  • Dados, Nour, and Raewyn Connell. “The Global South.” Contexts 11.1 (Winter 2012): 12–13.

    DOI: 10.1177/1536504212436479Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This article provides a brief introduction to the concept and its origins, acknowledging that the “idea of the South” was largely framed by Antonio Gramsci’s meditations on the “Southern Question,” which analyzed power relations between northern and southern Italy, and later by the Argentine economist Raúl Prebisch’s seminal contributions to Latin American dependency theory (p.12).

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  • Klengel, Susanne, and Alexandra Ortiz Wallner, eds. Sur/South: Poetics and Politics of Thinking Latin America/India. Madrid: Iberoamericana, 2016.

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    The essays in this volume, in English and Spanish, examine theoretical and concrete Indian–Latin American exchanges through the lens of South-South horizontality. The South, in this text, refers to “a complex geocultural relationship,” and Indian and Latin American exchanges are framed within the transnational movement of capital and peoples (p. 9). The introduction contains an overview and substantial bibliography on the concept of the Global South.

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  • López, Alfred J., ed. Special Issue: Globalization and the Future of Comparative Literature. The Global South 1 (2007).

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    The first issue of The Global South journal provides a broad introduction to the central issues surrounding the Global South as a conceptual apparatus. López’s “Introduction: The (Post) Global South,” is a seminal text for the field of Global South studies, and recommended articles from this issue include contributions by Arif Dirlik, Deborah Cohn, Matthew Sparke, and Jon Smith.

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  • Mahler, Anne Garland. “The Global South in the Belly of the Beast: Viewing African American Civil Rights through a Tricontinental Lens.” Latin American Research Review 50.1 (2015): 95–116.

    DOI: 10.1353/lar.2015.0007Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This article suggests that the Organization of Solidarity with the Peoples of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, formed in 1966 during the Tricontinental Conference in Havana, presents a theory of transnational political resistance that is resurfacing in the notion of the Global South. Specifically, the shift from a 1950s Bandung-era Afro-Asian solidarity to a 1960s Tricontinental vision is parallel to a contemporary shift from postcolonial theory to the Global South.

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  • Milian, Claudia. Latining America: Black-Brown Passages and the Coloring of Latino/a Studies. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2013.

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    The first chapter, “Southern Latinities,” uses a Global South framework to unsettle the mapping of regional geographies—such as the US South and Latin America—and to disrupt how those geographies are simplistically coded as racially black and brown. Through tracing the ways that southernness and Latinxness overrun the geographic spaces to which they are assigned, Milian considers how southern Latinities destabilize the black-white racial divide of the US South.

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  • Prashad, Vijay. The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South. London: Verso, 2012.

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    This book defines the contemporary Global South as the transnational social movements that have emerged since the 1990s to resist policies of neoliberalism. Prashad locates the history of the global vision of these movements within the so-called Third World Project, and specifically in the history of the Non-Aligned Movement.

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  • The South Commission. The Challenge to the South: The Report of the South Commission. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990.

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    The South Commission, announced at the 1986 Non-Aligned Summit and established in 1987, was chaired by Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere and included representatives from twenty-eight countries. Its report is largely a follow-up to the Brandt Report (Brandt 1980) and frames the South as the former Third World. It critiques inequity between nations of the North and South and argues that South-South cooperation could help reduce dependence on Northern countries (p. 10).

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Geographic versus Situational Location

The “South” as a nation-based, geopolitical formation began to emerge in the 1970s within development and diplomatic organizations such as the United Nations Group of 77, which sought to facilitate economic cooperation between economically disadvantaged nation-states. It was solidified and popularized with the Brandt Commission Reports, published in 1980 and 1983, which characterized global capital relations through the North-South metaphor (Dirlik 2007, p. 13). Following the disintegration of the Soviet bloc in the early 1990s and the global implementation of policies associated with the Washington Consensus, “global” began to be affixed to “south” within these development discourses, such as the United Nations Development Programme’s 2003 initiative “Forging a Global South” (see Dirlik 2007). While it has long been used as an alternative to the Cold War moniker “Third World,” it has also formed part of a larger deterritorializing turn within globalization theory. In other words, the Global South is often used to refer not to a territorial designation that describes an economic divide between a geographic North and South, but rather to address spaces and peoples negatively impacted by globalization, including within the borders of wealthier countries. Within globalization studies more broadly, the Global South could be understood as an intermediary between the deterritorial views of network power and globalization theorists and the more state-based, territorial analysis found in prior models of transnational comparison, such as world-systems analysis and dependency theory. The Global South is an attempt to reconcile the need to transcend state-centric forms of analysis with an acknowledgement of the way that contemporary global capitalism produces “new, rescaled sociospatial configurations” (Brenner 2011, p. 103). These new configurations “cannot be effectively described on the basis of purely territorialist, nationally scaled models,” but they are still fundamentally sociospatial in nature (Brenner 2011, p. 103). In other words, the Global South does not refer simplistically to the geography of the Southern Hemisphere, but rather to a geographically flexible, sociospatial mapping of the negative effects of capitalist accumulation. Although there are countless studies that use the term as a simple replacement for Third World states, I include in this bibliography the studies—such as Mignolo 2011, Obarrio 2013, Rigg 2007, Sheppard and Nagar 2004, and Thomas and Wilkin 1997— that provide a more nuanced reflection. See also Global South Cities and Social Movements.

  • Brenner, Neil. “The Space of the World: Beyond State-Centrism?” In Immanuel Wallerstein and the Problem of the World: System, Scale, Culture. Edited by David Palumbo-Liu, Nirvana Tanoukhi, and Bruce Robbins, 101–137. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011.

    DOI: 10.1215/9780822393344-006Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A critique of Immanuel Wallerstein’s world-systems analysis. While it does not discuss the Global South as a concept, it lays out the state-centric territorial versus deterritorial comparative methodologies to which the Global South responds.

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  • Dirlik, Arif. “Global South: Predicament and Promise.” The Global South 1.1 (2007): 12–23.

    DOI: 10.2979/GSO.2007.1.1.12Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    An overview of the history of the Global South as a geopolitical concept. Discusses the “southernization” of the North through the so-called Beijing Consensus.

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  • Mignolo, Walter. “The Global South and World Dis/Order.” Journal of Anthropological Research 67.2 (Summer 2011): 165–188.

    DOI: 10.3998/jar.0521004.0067.202Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    While this article primarily addresses the history of a Western spatial construction of the globe based in an East/West divide, it argues against understanding the Global South as merely “countries south of the equator” (p. 183). The Global South, Mignolo argues, is “not a geographical location; rather it is a metaphor that indicates regions of the world at the receiving end of globalization and suffering its consequences” (p. 184).

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  • Obarrio, Juan. “Pensar al Sur.” Intersticios de la política y la cultura 3.2 (2013): 5–13.

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    A reflection on the various uses of the Global South as both a territorial and epistemological formation.

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  • Rigg, Jonathan. An Everyday Geography of the Global South. New York: Routledge, 2007.

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    This study of the micro-geographies of globalization defines the Global South in the most traditional sense, conflating it with the Third World, postcolonial world, developing world, and non-Western world. However, Rigg also recognizes that “some scholars prefer to add ‘Global’ to make it clear that this is not a strict geographical categorization of the world but one based on economic inequalities which happens to have some cartographic continuity” (p. 3).

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  • Sheppard, Eric, and Richa Nagar. “From East-West to North-South.” Antipode (2004): 557–563.

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    Within contemporary capitalist globalization, the East-West rivalries of the Cold War, which occurred at the level of the nation-state, are replaced with North-South relations that are supranational. The Global North “is constituted through a network of political and economic elites,” and the Global South “is to be found everywhere” (p. 558). Ultimately, the article calls for “new collaborative geographies” that build alliances across national, cultural, and socioeconomic boundaries (p. 563).

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  • Thomas, Caroline, and Peter Wilkin, eds. Globalization and the South. New York: St. Martin’s, 1997.

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    This volume addresses the transnational undersides of globalization. The introduction discusses wealth in the geographic South and poverty in the geographic North. In an effort “to liberate our thinking from the constraints imposed by interpretation within a territorially-based state-centric worldview, which concentrates on a North/South gap in terms of states,” the volume proposes a conceptualization based in “the global construction of entitlement and distribution” (p. 3).

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The South in the North

In the attention to inequities within the geographic North, the Global South draws on a Western tradition in which the South has long represented an internal periphery and a site of historical memory for both Europe and the United States. Within this tradition, “Southern” does not only refer to a region but also to a subaltern relational position vis-à-vis a more economically vital and modern North. In the concept of the Global South, the South is separated from a one-to-one relation to geography, superseding the regionalism associated with the Souths of the geographical North as well as the nation-based cartographies implied in the Cold War concept “Third World.” A major contribution to the consideration of the place of the South within the geographic North and to the notion of the South as a “situational location” that indexes spaces of inequity and marginalization around the globe has been forged in the work of both scholars of the so-called new southern studies of the US South and by studies addressing the meanings attached to southern Europe, such as in the neomeridionalist approach to southern Italy (Guterl 2007, p. 232). Italian studies scholars, drawing from the Gramscian tradition on the “Southern Question,” have long analyzed how southern Italy and southern Europe are framed as an internal Other that is a repository of a premodern European past (Dainotto 2000, Dainotto 2011, Cassano 2012, Gramsci 2015). US southern studies scholarship—a broad field of which only a few studies are included here—similarly considers the multiple meanings attached to the “imagined location” of the US South, producing comparative studies of the US South with other geographic and economics Souths (Cohn 1999, Smith and Cohn 2004, McKee and Trefzer 2006, Monteith 2007). These works often address how a model of governance in the post-Reconstruction US South—including racial segregation and the proletarianization of plantation agriculture—was globalized through US imperial expansion. In this scholarship, the spatial and directional vocabulary of the “South” is more relational than literal. Through theorizing the “South” and through the comparative study of the US South with other geographic and economics “Souths,” such as in Milian 2013, new southern studies has made a major contribution to the Global South’s deterritorial conceptualization.

  • Cassano, Franco. Southern Thought and Other Essays on the Mediterranean. Edited and translated by Norma Bouchard and Valerio Ferme. New York: Fordham University Press, 2012.

    DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823233649.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Cassano counters the characterization of the Mediterranean as underdeveloped and uses Southern thought, as an autonomous critical perspective, to connect the Italian South to other Souths. This move is not intended to make false equivalences, but “to oppose the tendency to think that the emancipation of the Italian South can be read as a separate question, enclosed within the boundaries of a national or continental state” (p. xxxvi).

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  • Cohn, Deborah. History and Memory in the Two Souths: Recent Southern and Spanish American Fiction. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1999.

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    Cohn’s study makes a case for a shared history between the US South and Latin America: one “of dispossession, of socioeconomic hardship, of political and cultural conflict, and of the export of resources to support the development of a ‘North’” (p. 5). This shared relation of dependency with the North allows Cohn to theorize the regions as “neighboring spaces” and to consider parallels in their literary representations (p. 2).

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  • Dainotto, Roberto M. “A South with a View: Europe and Its Other.” Nepantla: Views from the South 1.2 (2000): 375–390.

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    A study of the emergence of the idea of southern Europe. Dainotto argues that in the 18th century, Orientalism prepares the way for a discourse of European southernism around Europe’s internal Other. Through the invention of the idea of the South, it internalizes its Other as a European past.

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  • Dainotto, Roberto M. “Does Europe Have a South? An Essay on Borders.” In Special Issue: The Global South and World Dis/Order. Edited by Caroline Levander and Walter Mignolo. The Global South 5.1 (Spring 2011): 37–50.

    DOI: 10.2979/globalsouth.5.1.37Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This article proposes that Eurocentrism rests on the idea of southern Europe as the “negative moment” in its Hegelian “dialectical progress,” making the European South inseparable from the Global South, “with both souths being part and product of the same logic defining spirit and identity of Europe (or the West)” (p. 39).

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  • Gramsci, Antonio. The Southern Question. Translated by Pasquale Verdicchio. New York: Bordighera, 2015.

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    In this classic text on which many theorizations of the South within the North are based, Gramsci, one of the founders of the Italian Communist Party, analyzes the inequality between northern and southern Italy. Gramsci critiques a northern Italian framing of the Italian South as an ignorant mass and argues for the unification of the northern working class and the southern peasants in order to overthrow the capitalist class.

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  • Guterl, Matthew Pratt. “South.” In Keywords for American Cultural Studies. Edited by Bruce Burgett and Glenn Hendler, 230–233. New York: New York University Press, 2007.

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    This entry describes the US South as more than the region below the Mason-Dixon line. It is described rather as a “situational location, as much a temporary mood or state of life as it is a state of mind” (p. 232).

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  • McKee, Katherine, and Annette Trefzer, eds. Special Issue: Global Contexts, Local Literatures: The New Southern Studies. American Literature 78.4 (2006).

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    Position papers frame the US South within global contexts, especially focusing on relations between the US South and the Southern Hemisphere. Deborah Cohn discusses the exportation of racial regimes of control from the US South to the Caribbean through the Spanish-American War. John T. Matthews expands on how the South was globalized, and Jon Smith compares the US South’s history of military defeat with other regions of the Southern Hemisphere.

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  • Milian, Claudia. Latining America: Black-Brown Passages and the Coloring of Latino/a Studies. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2013.

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    This study unsettles the North-South geography of traditional Latinx studies by questioning “how regional spaces are mapped and how certain geographies are imagined as the main purveyors of absolute blackness and browness” (p. 18). Its first chapter, “Southern Latinities,” which uses a Global South framework for considering Latinxs in the US South, is particularly pertinent.

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  • Monteith, Sharon. “Southern Like US?” The Global South 1.1 (2007): 66–74.

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    Monteith traces a turn within studies on the US South away from exceptionalism and insularity toward international comparison within “a metageography of interrelated multiple Souths” (p. 67). The article particularly compares the various diasporas from the US South to the US North to other migrations northward.

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  • Smith, Jon, and Deborah Cohn, eds. Look Away! The U.S. South in New World Studies. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004.

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    This book theorizes the US South as a liminal space that is “simultaneously (or alternately) center and margin, victor and defeated, empire and colony, essentialist and hybrid, northern and southern (both in the global sense)” (p. 9). Essays cover the relationship of the US South to the Caribbean and Mexico, and to postcolonial theory, and the role of William Faulkner in “the construction of an imagined global-southern community” (p. 14).

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Southern Theory

Some of the most well-known scholarship associated with the Global South has been on so-called Southern theory, which centers theoretical interventions that emerge out of the experiences of those in the non-Western world and in economic peripheries around the globe (de Sousa Santos 2014; Trefzer, et al. 2014). Some of this work takes South as a given category, conflating North/South with East/West and center/periphery without an examination of the specific historical contexts through which these cartographies of power have arisen (Connell 2007). The authors of these works write against a tradition that has treated poorer communities as objects of study, framing them rather as producers of knowledge (Comaroff and Comaroff 2012, Obarrio 2012). In their privileging of the South (used both geographically and relationally) as a more productive site of social theorizing (Cassano 2012), this scholarship could be critiqued for a tendency to bend toward intellectual essentialism, even as the works themselves seek to destabilize the South as a reified object that can be firmly located and thus subjected to study.

  • Cassano, Franco. Southern Thought and Other Essays on the Mediterranean. Edited and translated by Norma Bouchard and Valerio Ferme. New York: Fordham University Press, 2012.

    DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823233649.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Cassano rejects the progress-centric narrative that suggests that the South, by which the author means the Italian South as a microcosm of the world’s Souths, should become like northern Europe. Instead, the South should embrace its “different point of view,” since this perspective provides key insights into the future of an increasingly globalized world (p. xxvii).

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  • Comaroff, Jean, and John L. Comaroff. Theory from the South: Or, How Euro-America is Evolving towards Africa. Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2012.

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    Whereas Western enlightenment thought has considered the non-West as the site of unprocessed data about which the West forges its theories, knowledge produced in the South provides the most insight into contemporary global capitalism and prefigures the future of the North. South and North are framed as unstable geographies that reflect the multidirectionality of global capital flows. However, the chapters that follow the introduction focus exclusively on the African context.

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  • Connell, Raewyn. Southern Theory: The Global Dynamics of Knowledge in Social Science. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2007.

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    This book discusses theory that emerges from “the social experience of the periphery” (p. viii). Specifically, it examines social theorizing in four contexts in which economic and cultural dependence has been challenged: “postcolonial Africa, modernising Iran, Latin America since World War II, and India since the Emergency of the 1970s” (p. viii). Connell tends to collapse North/South with center/periphery and East/West without teasing out distinctions between these cartographies.

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  • de Sousa Santos, Boaventura. Epistemologies of the South: Justice against Epistemicide. Boulder. CO: Paradigm, 2014.

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    Imagining a postcapitalist world requires valuing non-Western epistemologies, since “we face Marxist problems for which there are no Marxist solutions” (p. 45). The author makes a distinction between a geographic South (which may or may not reproduce epistemologies of the North) and an “anti-imperial South” that the global Left should embrace (p. 42). That is, the South here emerges as an ideological positioning vis-à-vis global capitalism.

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  • Obarrio, Juan, ed. “Theory from the South.” In Theorizing the Contemporary, Cultural Anthropology (24 February 2012).

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    These essays, initially presented at a 2011 roundtable in response to the Comaroff’s book of the same title, provide a rich dialogue with the book’s core concepts. The Comaroff’s rejoinder further clarifies their conceptualization of the South as a relation, rather than a thing in itself, an ex-centric perspective “from which to estrange our world in its totality in order better to make sense of its present and future.”

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  • Trefzer, Annette, Jeffrey T. Jackson, Kathryn McKee, and Kristen Dellinger, eds. Special Issue: The Global South and/in the Global North: Interdisciplinary Investigations. The Global South 8.2 (Fall 2014).

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    This interdisciplinary special issue of The Global South addresses labor and extraction geographies, uneven development within North-South relations, and the exchange of knowledge production between a Global South and North that are fluidly defined.

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Global South as Political Formation

There are three primary tendencies in addressing the Global South as a political formation, and all revolve around identifying and imagining alternatives to neoliberal globalization. The first is a comparatist consideration of the relationship between progressive movements at both the national and local levels in former Third World nation-states, wherein the Latin American Left is often taken as a core case study (Polet 2007, Sandbrook 2014, Thompson and Tapscott 2010). The second is represented by studies on South-South economic and political cooperation among states in which this cooperation is generally presented as a form of economic integration alternative to exploitative economic relations (Dargin 2013, Sandbrook 2014). However, there is a third and expanding tendency within a body of theoretical work on the networked nature of power and resistance within globalization. Therein, the Global South is used to refer to an emergent political imagination undergirding contemporary social movements that results from the recognition by the world’s Souths of a shared experience of the negative effects of neoliberal globalization (López 2007, Polet 2007, Prashad 2012). For example, Alfred J. López, the founding editor of the journal The Global South, describes the Global South as the “mutual recognition among the world’s subalterns of their shared conditions at the margins of the brave new neoliberal world of globalization” (López 2007, p. 1). Prashad 2012 defines it similarly but adds an implication of political action provoked by this shared consciousness, referring to “this concatenation of protests against the theft of the commons, against the theft of human dignity and rights, against the undermining of democratic institutions and the promises of modernity. The global South is this: a world of protest, a whirlwind of creative activity” (p. 9). This definition of the Global South as a transnational political imaginary that results from the identification of one’s shared conditions with others across the globe, a recognition that produces a “world of protest” and South-South political networks, offers cultural critics a helpful lens through which to approach resistant cultural production in both contemporary texts and in those past contexts that prefigure the contemporary political landscape (Grovogui 2011, Prashad 2012, p. 9).

  • Dargin, Justin, ed. The Rise of the Global South: Philosophical, Geopolitical, and Economic Trends of the 21st Century. Hackensack, NJ: World Scientific Publishing, 2013.

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    This volume primarily examines 21st-century forms of South-South cooperation among nation-states of the former Third World. Essays provide reflection on the critical theory behind South-South economic cooperation.

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  • Grovogui, Siba. “A Revolution Nonetheless: The Global South in International Relations.” In Special Issue: The Global South and World Dis/Order. Edited by Caroline Levander and Walter Mignolo. The Global South 5.1 (Spring 2011): 175–190.

    DOI: 10.2979/globalsouth.5.1.175Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This article describes the Global South as a “set of practices, attitudes, and relations” that seek to counter practices associated with colonialism and imperialism (p. 177). The “coherent historical identity” forged around these practices is based, Grovogui argues, in the aspiration to more egalitarian societies that is exemplified in the Cold War anticolonialisms of the 1955 Bandung Conference, the 1961 Non-Aligned Movement, and in Tricontinentalism (p. 176).

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  • López, Alfred J. “Introduction: The (Post) Global South.” The Global South 1.1–2 (2007): 1–11.

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    The founding editor of The Global South describes the journal’s organizing concept as a new political subjectivity forged through the transnational imaginary facilitated by contemporary capitalist globalization.

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  • Polet, François, ed. The State of Resistance: Popular Struggles in the Global South. Translated by Victoria Bawtree. New York and London: Zed, 2007.

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    This collection of essays details recent social movements in Latin America, the Near East and the Maghreb, sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia.

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  • Prashad, Vijay. The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South. London: Verso, 2012.

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    This book begins its study by tracing the cooperation among nation-states within the Third World Project. However, it eventually poses the Global South as a potential transnational political subject forged through the contemporary social movements represented at the annual World Social Forum.

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  • Sandbrook, Richard. Reinventing the Left in the Global South: The Politics of the Possible. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781139680776Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Sandbrook focuses on the contemporary democratic Left from Africa, Asia, and Latin America, tracing three key positions in progressive states’ attempts to grapple with the tensions between democratic governance, economic growth, and the social good: one that firmly rejects capitalism, one that seeks to “replace neoliberalism with a more equitable and sustainable variety of capitalism” through a social-democratic welfare state, and one that simply calls for “humanizing neoliberalism” (pp. 5–6).

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  • Thompson, Lisa, and Chris Tapscott, eds. Citizenship and Social Movements: Perspectives from the Global South. London and New York: Zed, 2010.

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    This volume considers case studies from across the Southern Hemisphere of recent grassroots movements—both self-organized and governmental—that have sought reform for economic, social, and political inequality. Through considering various mobilization strategies in the geographic South, the volume aims to challenge the universality of core components of a social movement theory primarily based on experiences in the geographic North.

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Global South Cities and Social Movements

Within scholarship on the Global South as a political formation, scholars have studied the central role of urban space in contemporary social movements. In the interconnected system of global network power, cities have become the primary site for examining inequality and the imposition of a global order as well as for understanding the creative and often informal political organizing of the urban poor (Castells 2015; Dawson and Edwards 2004; Hill 2007; Ngwane, et al. 2017). These works offer multiregional perspectives on urbanization and development (Davis 2006, Koonings and Kruijt 2009, Miraftab and Kudva 2015) and study the new social movements that have emerged since the 1990s in urban spaces (Verdú 2006).

  • Castells, Manuel. Networks of Outrage and Hope: Social Movements in the Internet Age. 2d ed. New York: John Wiley, 2015.

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    Castells traces commonalities among recent social movements around the world, such as in Tunisia, Egypt, the United States, and Spain, and considers how these movements occupy a hybrid space between digital social networks and urban space.

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  • Davis, Mike. Planet of Slums. London: Verso, 2006.

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    Davis studies rapid urbanization of the former Third World and the subsequent mass production of slums in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Davis largely faults the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund for the creation of structural adjustment programs that have depressed public expenditures and forced millions into the informal sector of the economy, and considers forms of resistance among this informal urban proletariat.

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  • Dawson, Ashley, and Brent Hayes Edwards, eds. Special Issue: Global Cities of the South. Social Text 22.4 (Winter 2004).

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    This interdisciplinary special issue starts from the understanding that “many of the twenty-first century’s gravest ecological, political, and social issues will gestate and mature in the urban spaces of the developing world” (p. 1). To address these issues through a discourse of the Global South is to “indicate a critique of the neoliberal economic elite and its management of the globe according to a developmentalist paradigm” (p. 2).

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  • Hill, Mike. “Our Leviathan, Ourselves: Global South as Tropical City on a Hill?” The Global South 1.1–2 (2007): 45–54.

    DOI: 10.2979/GSO.2007.1.1.45Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Hill conceives of the Global South as “intranational orders of resistance” that respond to “intranational orders of oppressions” (p. 53). This primarily “urban insurgence” within “‘global southern’ cities” is made up of “the migrant labor force of US farm workers . . . together with the factory and telecommunication workers of the G-8’s so-called ‘wealth creation’ zones . . . Guatemalan clothes manufactures, Thai shoe makers, Indonesian weavers, and so on” (pp. 47, 52).

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  • Koonings, Kees, and Dirk Kruijt, eds. Megacities: The Politics of Urban Exclusion and Violence in the Global South. London: Zed, 2009.

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    This volume covers themes of security, poverty, violence, and mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion within megacities (five million people or more) in the Southern Hemisphere, and primarily in Latin America, South Africa, and the Middle East. Most of the essays address the various forms of popular movements among the urban poor in these cities.

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  • Miraftab, Faranak, and Neema Kudva, eds. Cities of the Global South Reader. London and New York: Routledge, 2015.

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    This collection of essays, which offers multiregional perspectives on urbanization and development in the Global South, views “cities as social processes, as political assemblages in which formal and informal institutions of governance are forged and continue to be shaped as polities change over time” (p. 3). One of the five sections of the volume is dedicated to governance, participation, and citizenship.

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  • Ngwane, Trevor, Luke Sinwell, and Immanuel Ness, eds. Urban Revolt: State Power and the Rise of People’s Movements in the Global South. Chicago: Haymarket, 2017.

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    A comparative study of recent urban social movements in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Case studies range from a militant workers’ movement in Marikana, South Africa, to popular protests in Ayotzinapa, Mexico, to resistance to eviction by urban poor in Jakarta, Indonesia.

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  • Verdú, Jaime Pastor. “Los movimientos sociales: De la crítica de modernidad a la denuncia de la globalización.” Psychosocial Intervention 15.2 (2006).

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    A brief overview of the characteristics of the new transnational social movements since the 1990s that have critiqued neoliberal globalization and that have primarily taken place in urban settings.

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Global South versus Postcoloniality

As both a political formation and a description of the organization of contemporary power, the Global South can productively be considered a direct departure from postcolonial theory (Cherniavsky 2007, Hassan 2014, Mahler 2015, Satpathy 2009). As a category of political subjectivity, postcoloniality has emphasized a circumstance of former colonization, a circumstance that is generally homologized with nonwhiteness and other trait-based definitions of collectivity. Postcoloniality, with its focus on the experience of European colonization, has long been the subject of debate around its relevance to people living within western Europe and North America and whether its use in reference to Latin America is merely a forced equivalence by the Western academy between the 19th-century decolonization of Latin America and that of Africa and Asia much later (Coronil 2008). In essence, the Global South in critical theory represents an attempt to provide an updated rubric for theorizing contemporary power and resistance, one that has a broader reach commensurate with the transcendent geocultural boundaries of globalization (Hassan 2014, Mahler 2015, Satpathy 2009). The Global South conceives of subaltern political collectivities not through a focus on the transnational experience and legacy of European colonization, but through a shared experience of the negative effects of capitalist globalization.

  • Cherniavsky, Eva. “The Romance of the Subaltern in the Twilight of Citizenship.” The Global South 1.1 (2007): 75–83.

    DOI: 10.2979/GSO.2007.1.1.75Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This article considers “global South discourse” within the traditions of postcolonial and subaltern studies, arguing that it is “an extension of (rather than a rejoinder to)” postcolonial studies, and that it draws from the tradition of subaltern studies in considering “the irreducible limits on thinking the South from within the institutions of the North” (p. 77).

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  • Coronil, Fernando. “Elephants in the Americas? Latin American Postcolonial Studies and Global Decolonization.” In Coloniality at Large: Latin America and the Postcolonial Debate. Edited by Mabel Moraña, Enrique Dussel, and Carlos Jáuregui, 396–416. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008.

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    This chapter provides a thorough overview of the many postcolonial studies anthologies in which Latin America has been elided. The article is a critique of postcolonial studies from a Latin Americanist perspective.

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  • Hassan, Waïl S. “Arab-Brazilian Literature: Alberto Mussa’s Mu`allaqa and South-South Dialogue.” In The Middle East and Brazil: Perspectives on the Global South. Edited by Paul Amar, 322–335. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2014.

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    Hassan sustains that South-South literary analysis intends to break with the colonizer-colonized binary of postcolonial theory that “contributes covertly to reinforcing Eurocentric historiography and theory,” and to propose an alternative world literature to the Paris-centric approach of Pascale Casanova’s “world republic of letters” (p. 323). Hassan’s study of Arab-Brazilian literature is invested in the comparative analysis of a South-South literary exchange that decenters Europe and North America.

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  • Mahler, Anne Garland. “The Global South in the Belly of the Beast: Viewing African American Civil Rights through a Tricontinental Lens.” Latin American Research Review 50.1 (2015): 95–116.

    DOI: 10.1353/lar.2015.0007Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Mahler historicizes the contemporary shift from postcolonial theory to the Global South, arguing that this shift constitutes a recovery of key concepts of the long elided Cold War movement called the Tricontinental, in which the Americas entered the Afro-Asian movement of solidarity begun at the 1955 Bandung Conference.

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  • Satpathy, Sumanyu, ed. Southern Postcolonialisms: The Global South and the “New” Literary Representations. London: Routledge, 2009.

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    The introduction provides an overview of the relationship between the Global South and postcolonial theory. The title captures a tension in which, even as the volume aims to move beyond the rubric of postcolonial studies, all the essays focus exclusively on the Anglophone world, a limitation that the editor self-critically acknowledges. In this way, it replicates one of the problems within postcolonial studies to which Global South comparatism responds.

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Methods of Global South Comparatism

Global South comparatism traces lateral dialogues that are not necessarily filtered through a center and that are often overlooked within nation-based models of comparison. It considers South-South relations—or relations among subaltern groups across national, linguistic, racial, and ethnic lines—as well as the histories of those relations in prior forms of South-South exchange. Within literary and cultural studies, Global South comparatism entails a horizontalist reading praxis of both contemporary and past cultural production in which texts are examined in dialogue with a global network of writers and artists. It deviates from a center-periphery model and moves toward a decentered, networked reading in which texts are situated within a transnational web of writers, artists, and activists who often understand their conditions of oppression and resistance as interconnected. This bibliography includes examples of a Global South comparatist methodology used in various disciplines. Armillas-Tiseyra 2014 reflects on Global South methodology within literary and cultural studies; Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o 2012 presents a model of reading “globalectically” that is largely parallel to Global South comparatism; Amar 2014 studies South-South exchanges between Brazil and the Middle East; Koonings and Kruijt 2009 compare urban popular movements across the Global South; Levander and Mignolo 2011 demonstrate the interdisciplinary and multiregional possibilities of comparison within a Global South framework; wa Ngugi 2012 exemplifies a South-South praxis of scholarly exchange; and Slovic, et al. 2015 posit a Global South ecocriticism.

  • Amar, Paul, ed. The Middle East and Brazil: Perspectives on the New Global South. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2014.

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    This collection examines South-South relations between Brazil and the Middle East. Cases range from diplomatic and political exchanges, to cultural and intellectual dialogues, to the physical presence of Middle Eastern populations in Brazil, and vice versa. It proposes that the essays included therein by an interdisciplinary group of scholars represent a “Global South-based” method that challenges area studies and state-centric methodologies and that decenters Europe and the United States (p. 5).

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  • Armillas-Tiseyra, Magalí, ed. Special Issue: Dislocations. The Global South 7.2 (Fall 2014): 1–10.

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    This special issue uses the Global South as its frame for examining “dislocations” within literary and cultural studies, or “the circulation and recoding of the sign as it passes into new geographical and historical contexts,” as well as the absence of references to place within texts that disassociate from geography in order to better engage the space of the globe (p. 6).

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  • Koonings, Kees, and Dirk Kruijt, eds. Megacities: The Politics of Urban Exclusion and Violence in the Global South. London: Zed, 2009.

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    A comparatist study of the mechanisms of control as well as resistant popular movements within cities of over five million people in primarily Latin America, the Middle East, and South Africa.

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  • Levander, Caroline, and Walter Mignolo, eds. Special Issue: Global South and World Dis/Order. The Global South 5.1 (Spring 2011).

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    Bringing together interdisciplinary work from leading scholars on Haiti, East Asia, southern Europe, the US South, Chile, and the Hispanic Caribbean, this special issue demonstrates the methodological possibilities opened up through a Global South framework.

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  • Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. Globalectics: Theory and the Politics of Knowing. New York: Columbia University Press, 2012.

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    The author proposes a networked approach to world literature called “globalectics.” Reading globalectically is “a way of approaching any text from whatever times and places to allow its content and themes form a free conversation with other texts of one’s time and place. . . . Such reading should bring into mutual impact and comprehension the local and the global, the here and there, the national and the world” (p. 60).

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  • Slovic, Scott, Swarnalatha Rangarajan, and Vidya Sarveswaran, eds. Ecocriticism of the Global South. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2015.

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    This volume aims to expand ecocriticism beyond a US and western European frame. Although it frequently collapses postcolonial and the Global South, the introduction contains a three-part definition of the Global South: first, as an anti-imperialist political position; second, as a geopolitical concept replacing “Third World”; and third, as a space within the North facilitated through the migrations of peoples from the former Third World and eastern Europe.

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  • wa Ngugi, Mukoma, ed. Special Issue: Rethinking the Global South. Journal of Contemporary Thought (Summer 2012).

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    In this special issue, scholars from around the world respond to Satya Mohanty’s interview, “Realism, Indian Literature, and World Literature: A Conversation with Satya P. Mohanty.” This first forum of Cornell University’s Global South Project exemplifies a South-South scholarly praxis of critical exchange, not only in scholars’ engagement with one another, but also in the project’s commitment to public scholarship. Reprinted in the Global South Project.

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Literature, Film, Media, and Cultural Studies

Much of the scholarship in Global South comparatism has been put forward within literary, media, and cultural studies. This is likely because the Global South framework helps to articulate the transnational dialogues and networks inherent to much textual production, and because it allows critics to engage the far-reaching political and artistic milieus in which many authors and artists have been situated. This bibliography includes examples of Global South comparatism within literary, film, media, and cultural studies. Armillas-Tiseyra 2014, Clukey and Wells 2016, and Satpathy 2009 are examples of South-South literary analysis; while Klengel and Ortiz Wallner 2016 uses the Global South to trace relationships between Indian and Latin American intellectuals. Duck and Haenni 2015; Harrow 2016; Higgins, et al. 2015; and Nimis 2014 are representative of Global South comparatism within film and media studies.

  • Armillas-Tiseyra, Magalí, ed. Special Issue: Dislocations. The Global South 7.2 (Fall 2014): 1–10.

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    A literary and cultural studies issue that employs its own “imaginative maps,” beginning in the Caribbean and expanding outward to Latin America, Europe, and South Asia (p. 6).

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  • Clukey, Amy, and Jeremy Wells, eds. Special Issue: Plantation Modernity. The Global South 10.2 (Fall 2016).

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    This special issue takes a comparative and transnational approach to the plantation as an organizing structure of capitalist modernity. It includes essays from literary and cultural studies that challenge the geographic and temporal boundaries of what is often considered a plantation economy.

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  • Duck, Leigh Anne, and Sabine Haenni. Special Issue: New Images of the City. The Global South 9.2 (2015).

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    Essays address how artists and filmmakers develop new aesthetics of representation of Global South cities beyond the familiar tropes of the dystopian megacity and the slum.

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  • Harrow, Kenneth W. “African Cinema in the Age of Postcolonialism and Globalization.” In The Routledge Companion to Cinema and Politics. Edited by Tannis Tzioumakis and Claire Molloy, 387–397. London: Routledge, 2016.

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    This chapter considers continuities and divergences from an African cinema based in Third Worldist political and aesthetic positions to a new “African Global South cinema in an age of globalization” (p. 387).

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  • Higgins, MaryEllen, Rita Keresztesi, and Dayna Oscherwitz, eds. The Western in the Global South. New York: Routledge, 2015.

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    This collection of essays traces how cinemas from Africa, Asia, Latin America, Australia, and southern Italy have engaged with, appropriated, and subverted central tropes and conventions of classic Hollywood westerns (p. 2). The volume’s consideration of how Global South cinemas have used westerns to critique the very Northern expansionism that they have historically depicted points to the analytical possibilities of a Global South framework.

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  • Klengel, Susanne, and Alexandra Ortiz Wallner, eds. Sur/South: Poetics and Politics of Thinking Latin America/India. Madrid: Iberoamericana, 2016.

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    The editors frame their South-South reading method as one that intentionally moves beyond the “postcolonial criterion of ‘colonial difference’” in favor of the “entangled histories” of Indian and Latin American intellectuals and the interrelationships within globalization (p. 12, 7).

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  • Nimis, John, ed. Special Issue: New Media Methodologies in the Global South. The Global South 8.1 (Spring 2014).

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    This issue was produced out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s research workshop on “New Media and Mass/Popular Culture in the Global South.” Articles focus on media produced in peripheral zones that represent these zones as part of a global community.

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  • Satpathy, Sumanyu, ed. Southern Postcolonialisms: The Global South and the “New” Literary Representations. London: Routledge, 2009.

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    This volume contains examples of South-South literary analysis within the Anglophone world. Satpathy proposes the Global South as a transnational model of comparison that seeks to address “non-Western sources of globalization” as well as histories of multicultural lateral dialogues that have been elided within nation-based comparative axes (p. 24). Significantly, essays in the volume discuss pedagogical possibilities provided by South-South analysis.

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History

The Global South originates in the Third World Project, meaning Cold War non-aligned and radical solidarity discourses found, for example, in Bandung era Afro-Asianism and in Tricontinentalism. Indeed, in some of the development texts with which this concept is most identified, the Global South is simply an updated term for the former Third World (Brandt 1980, Southern Commission 1990). This bibliography includes a few introductory works to the Third World Project (Braveboy-Wagner 2009, Lee 2010, Young 2005). Dirlik 2007, Halim 2012, Prashad 2012, and Yoon 2012 draw a direct line from these Cold War discourses to the contemporary notion of the Global South. Within Tricontinentalism specifically, the US South and South Africa were often employed as metaphors for global relations of inequity and as microcosms of the oppression suffered under transnational forms of racial capital. Mahler 2015 contends that the contemporary Global South, which is framed as a transnational revolutionary subject that arises out of the expansiveness of global capital, draws from this core element of Cold War Tricontinentalism.

  • Brandt, Willy. North-South: A Programme for Survival; Report of the Independent Commission on International Development Issues. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 1980.

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    Published by the Brandt Commission, named after the German chancellor Willy Brandt. A foundational text for a vision of global inequality through a North-South divide.

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  • Braveboy-Wagner, Jacqueline Anne. Institutions of the Global South. London: Routledge, 2009.

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    This book provides a brief history of multilateral organizations among African, Asian, and Latin American states, such as the Non-Aligned Movement, the G77, and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

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  • Dirlik, Arif. “Global South: Predicament and Promise.” The Global South 1.1 (2007): 12–23.

    DOI: 10.2979/GSO.2007.1.1.12Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Detailed overview of the history of the Global South as a geopolitical idea.

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  • Halim, Hala. “Lotus, the Afro-Asian Nexus, and Global South Comparatism.” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 32.3 (2012): 563–583.

    DOI: 10.1215/1089201X-1891570Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This article addresses the Afro-Asian Writers’ Association, the writers’ bureau of the Afro-Asian People’s Solidarity Organization (AAPSO), and its literary magazine Lotus. Halim argues that this project “held a promise of Global South comparatism, which it fell short of fulfilling in a sustained way,” since it did not extend much beyond the geographical regions of Africa and Asia (p. 566).

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  • Lee, Christopher J., ed. Making a World after Empire: The Bandung Moment and its Political Afterlives. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2010.

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    The essays in this volume introduce the history and context of the 1955 Bandung Conference, as well as its legacies in the Non-Aligned Movement and in postcolonial criticism.

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  • Mahler, Anne Garland. “The Global South in the Belly of the Beast: Viewing African American Civil Rights through a Tricontinental Lens.” Latin American Research Review 50.1 (2015): 95–116.

    DOI: 10.1353/lar.2015.0007Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Mahler addresses the role of the US South and a focus on African American civil rights in forging the global resistant political subjectivity of the Organization of Solidarity with the Peoples of Africa, Asia, and Latin America (Tricontinental), and suggests this history as an ideological root of the contemporary political imaginary of the Global South.

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  • Prashad, Vijay. The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South. London: Verso, 2012.

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    This book presents a comprehensive history of the Global South within the Non-Aligned Movement and its derivatives.

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  • The South Commission. The Challenge to the South: The Report of the South Commission. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990.

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    This follow-up to the Brandt Report, which was published by The South Commission chaired by Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere, is a key text for the analysis of economic inequity through a North-South lens.

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  • Yoon, Duncan. “The Global South and Cultural Struggles: On the Afro-Asian People’s Solidarity Organization.” The Journal of Contemporary Thought (Summer 2012).

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    This article studies the Writers’ Bureau of the Afro-Asian People’s Solidarity Organization as an early example of South-South solidarity and exchange, and considers how its literature conceived of a Global South humanism. Reprinted in the Global South Project.

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  • Young, Robert J. C. “Postcolonialism: From Bandung to the Tricontinental.” Historein 5 (2005): 11–21.

    DOI: 10.12681/historein.70Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A brief introduction to the development of Cold War internationalisms from the Bandung Conference to the Tricontinental Conference.

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