La integración continental sudamericana, inscripción espacial y dispositivo discursivo. Apuntes desde Bolivia, el país de contactos

Laetitia Perrier Bruslé

Since the 1990s, regional integration has been back on the South American agenda. This paper is based on the hypothesis that the integration of each South American country into regional alliances is always evaluated in terms of national priorities. Starting from this premise, I demonstrate that all integration projects are paradoxical. Indeed, they are national project and they’re transformed when reaching continental scale.

In Bolivia, the narrative of the “connection country” is a fundamental dimension of popular, practical and formal geopolitics. Ubiquitous from educational narratives to political speeches, this narrative describes Bolivia as the heart of South America. It has been for decades a forceful discourse based on the idea that the country’s future can only be secured by its political, economic and infrastructural insertion into the continent. All Bolivian continental integration projects since the end of the Chaco war (1935) have endorsed this story. The permanency of this narrative is useful to understand today’s Bolivia. It also provides insight into regional integrations themselves showing the relationship between their narrative and their geographical backgrounds. There are two kind of integration projects. Economic integration gives priority to opening borders and market enlargement and political integration that aims to strengthen continental political capacity. When economic logic prevails, territorial opening becomes the priority. However when integrations have political ambitions, the strengthening of a continental block gives priority to re-territorialization centered on spaces with high identity.

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