How a group of intellectuals and policymakers transformed development economics and gave Latin America a new position in the world.
After the Second World War demolished the old order, a group of economists and policymakers from across Latin America imagined a new global economy and launched an intellectual movement that would eventually capture the world. They charged that the systems of trade and finance that bound the world’s nations together were frustrating the economic prospects of Latin America and other regions of the world. Through the UN Economic Commission for Latin America, or CEPAL, the Spanish and Portuguese acronym, cepalinos challenged the orthodoxies of development theory and policy. Simultaneously, they demanded more not less trade, more not less aid, and offered a development agenda to transform both the developed and the developing world. Eventually, cepalinos established their own form of hegemony, outpacing the United States and the International Monetary Fund as the agenda setters for a region traditionally held under the orbit of Washington and its institutions. By doing so, cepalinos reshaped both regional and international governance and set an intellectual agenda that still resonates today.
Drawing on unexplored sources from the Americas and Europe, Margarita Fajardo retells the history of dependency theory, revealing the diversity of an often-oversimplified movement and the fraught relationship between cepalinos, their dependentista critics, and the regional and global Left. By examining the political ventures of dependentistas and cepalinos, The World That Latin America Created is a story of ideas that brought about real change.
The World That Latin America Created is a tour de force of Latin American economic thinking. It is bound to generate much discussion and debate.
The World That Latin America Created is a sweeping and original history of cepalino structuralism and dependency theory—two worldmaking schools of economic thought that Latin American intellectuals crafted after 1930 and bequeathed to the world by the 1970s. Historians of Latin America have long regarded the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America (CEPAL) as one of the most important international institutions of the twentieth century, and Fajardo has given us an authoritative history of its development and the debates it spawned.
A trailblazing exploration of a fateful episode in twentieth-century development history organized around the lives, words, and deeds of its leading cast of characters. This book shakes up conventional wisdoms about Latin America’s postwar development project and brings into sharp focus ideas long distorted by neoliberal hindsight. It is certain to be widely read in both North and South.
The World That Latin America Created provides a deeply-researched history of the intellectual and political project of the cepalinos, explaining both the enduring significance of their ideas and the counterreactions they inspired from both right and left. In deftly navigating between theory and practice, national politics and transnational institutions, and the coalescence and fragmentation of a movement, Margarita Fajardo has written a novel and timely account of a crucial episode in the public life of economic ideas.
Few things are so often cited and so little understood as dependency theory. Margarita Fajardo’s excellent book explains why: the battle over the theory has been long and heated, stretching over decades and continents. Through biographies of key players, she guides us through the twists and turns of CEPAL and the dependentistas, from revolutionary Cuba in the late 1950s to the neoliberal turn in 1990s Brazil, exploding simplistic Cold War binaries, refusing moralizing formulas, and keeping alive a legacy of economic thought that offered no easy answers for a better future.
With Margarita Fajardo’s fine study, readers will understand how and why Latin American economic ideas shaped a global generation. Fajardo recalls an age when debates over political economy defined revolutions and cogently exposes the economic conflicts at the heart of Latin America’s Cold War.
- 2022, Winner of the LASA Nineteenth-century Section Best Book Award
- 296 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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