The study of ‘America as a problem’ is an inquiry in past, present and future relations between ‘geopolitical units’ and ‘national ideas’. A point of departure is that the shifts in the global system leads to a change and rethinking of established geopolitical units, fundamentally states. The focus is here on the particular challenge that these shifts imply for states in the American continent. A prominent unit in the study is the United States, due to its position as great power as well as for its particular national ‘American’ identity, associated to a continent. As addressed in this study, the geopolitical and economic challenges in the conformation of new global systems acts as pressure for a redefinition of state’s dimension, leading to new forms of national scope. This process also affects Canada, Latin American and Caribbean countries, as well as their regional organizations. A systemic framework of analysis is central in this study, due to the mutual influence between units and systems, at regional and global levels. The study covers three different dimensions. The first and most relevant is the ‘geopolitical’, related to the power over global and local territorial space by ‘geopolitical units’, where states are the most relevant ones. A second one is the ‘national issue’, where the study emphasizes the non-material side, implicit in discourses and imaginations giving legitimacy and shape to geopolitical units. It is in this dimension where the study places the changing meanings in the ‘idea of America’. A third dimension is related to 'international political economy’ (IPE), where the focus is on global supply (commodity) chains and economic forces related to trade and financial capital (Pomeranz & Topic 2018). ‘America as a problem’ is a way of highlighting the challenges of geopolitical units to rethink their position in the framework of new shifts in global economic and geopolitical systems. A central hypothesis of this study is that this imply a redefinition of all states, opening the possibility of a renewed emphasis on continental synergies as a way of finding a stronger position in the emerging global system of the 21th century.

Research seminars are open for researchers, PhD-candidates and Master students working with Latin American issues. If you are interested in participating, please contact

Organiser: Nordic Institute of Latin American Studies
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