chapter  3
32 Pages

The South in a Changing World Order

This Chapter investigates the central theme of this section, How has the Global South emerged in its current form?, by looking at the ways in which the South has been constitutive of a changing world political order. The fi rst part of the Chapter traces the processes that have led to the organization of the Global South in to a system of nation-states. Today, countries of the South are part of a global international community, making up over two-thirds of the 192 states taking their places within the United Nations, but in the heyday of European colonialism less than a century ago, a world of sovereign Southern states was hardly imaginable. To understand this change, we review some of the major political transformations that the South has undergone over the last 500 years, in particular, looking at processes of colonization, decolonization and nation-building. A territorial grid of nation-states is often thought of as a ‘natural’ part of the political order, and is deeply imbedded in today’s international structures, but we argue that it does not always or easily match up with the complex cultural and political divisions of the Global South. As a result, many parts of the Global South are still living with the effects of their colonial histories: who or what is included within a country’s national identity often remains a particularly controversial issue and the legacy of decolonization can be a contributing factor in complex political emergencies that threaten the very survival of states and their populations today.