The Politics of Regional Integration in Latin America

FGV, Rio de Janeiro

2 – 6 May 2011

Professor Olivier Dabène

Olivier Dabène is Professor of Political Science at the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po) since 2005, where he directs the Latin American Studies Programs and heads the Department of Political Science. He is also researcher at the Center for International Studies and Research (CERI, Sciences Po) and Visiting Professor at the University of Salamanca (Spain) and at the Externado University in Bogota (Colombia). He has been Researcher at the Centre of Mexican and Central American Studies (CEMCA) in Costa Rica, Cultural attaché in São Paulo, Brazil, and Visiting Scholar at the University of Texas at Austin and at Northwestern University. His latest book is titled The Politics of Regional Integration in Latin America (N.Y., Palgrave Macmillan, 2009). O. Dabène is currently President of the Political Observatory of Latin America and the Caribbean (

This seminar is designed to introduce the history, institutions, politics and policies of Latin American integration, as well as some theories that best explain them. Since its independence, Latin America has nourished a dream of unity but waited until after World War II to launch processes of regional integrat ion. How can we explain the different paths of integration and disintegration? What kind of historical context drove the countries to build regional arrangements? The different experiences rapidly proved disappointing, bumping into many crises and setbacks. Yet the processes of regional integration in Central America, the Caribbean, the Andean region or the southern cone managed to survive, with increasing institutional complexity. How can we explain this pattern of consistency despite instability, or resilience despite crises?

Basic compulsory reading for the class

Olivier Dabène, The Politics of Regional Integration in Latin America. Theoretical and Comparative Explorations, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

Other reading materials are included in the syllabus.


  1. Introduction. Definitions, historical origins, theoretical perspectives.

Reading: W. Andrew Axline, “Latin American regional integration: alternative perspectives on a changing reality”, Latin American Research Review, Vol.16, n°1, 1981, p. 167-186.

Recommended: Vasant Kumar Bawa, Latin American Integration, Atlantic Highlands: Humanities Press, 1980. Finn Laursen (ed.), Comparative Regional Integration. Theoretical Perspectives, London: Ashgate, 2003.

  1. The Political Rationale of Regional Integration: Resolving regional crises and defending democracy

Readings: Isabella Alcañiz, An economic road to peace, a peaceful road for growth: regional integration through the side door in Western Europe and South America, CIES e-Working Paper N°3/2005; José Augusto Guilhon Albuquerque, “Mercosur: Democratic Stability and Economic Integration in South America”, p.261-286, in Jeffrey J. Anderson (ed.), Regional Integration and Democracy. Expanding on the European Experience, Boulder: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999.

Recommended: Gian Luca Gardini, The Origins of Mercosur. Democracy and Regionalization in South America, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.

  1. Design and Development of Institutions: Explaining a mismatch between scope and level of integration

Reading: Philippe Schmitter, “Central American Integration: Spill-over, Spill-around or Encapsulation?”, Journal of Common Market Studies, IX(1), September 1970: pp.1-48.

Recommended: Gary Wynia, Politics and Planners. Economic Development Policy in Central America, Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1972.

  1. The outcome of regional integration: Integration and common goods

Reading: Fritz Scharpf, Governing in Europe: Effective and Democratic?, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999, chapter 2.

Recommended: Willem Mole, The Economics of European Integration. Theory, Practice, Policy, London: Ashgate, 4th edition, 2001.

  1. The Contentious politics of integration

Reading: Verónica Montecinos, “Ceremonial Regionalism, Institutions and Integration in the Americas”, Studies in Comparative International Development, Vol. 31, N°2, summer 1996: pp.110-123.

Recommended: Gordon Mace, Louis Bélanger (ed.), The Américas in Transition. The Contours of Regionalism, Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 1999.

Other recommended readings:

Mattli, Walter, The Logic of Regional Integration. Europe and Beyond, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Smith, Peter (ed.), The challenge of integration. Europe and the Americas, London: Transaction publishers, 1993