Semiperipheries in the World-System: Reflecting Eastern European and Latin American Experiences

Manuela Boatca

Abstract


This paper claims that, since many of the concepts relevant to our analysis of systemic change were coined in and about the core, the potential with which solutions to world-systemic crisis are credited in the long run should be assessed differently depending on the structural location of their origin. In the periphery, such concepts as conservatism, socialism and even liberalism took forms that often retained nothing of the original model but the name, such that strategies of applying them to (semi)peripheral situations ranged from stretching the ideology to discarding the (liberal) myth altogether. In a first step, the hypothesis of semiperipheral development (Chase-Dunn and Hall), according to which the semiperiphery represents the most likely locus of political, economical, and institutional change, is amended to say that, at least for the late modern world-system, the strength of the semiperiphery resides primarily in the cultural and epistemic sphere. In a second step, this contention is illustrated with the help of major challenges that the Eastern European and Latin American (semi)peripheries have posed to the world-systems political fields and institutional settings both in the past and to datewith different degrees of success corresponding to their respective structural position. In light of these examples, it is argued that a comparative analysis of continuities among political epistemologies developed in the semiperiphery can help us understand the ways in which similar attempts can become antisystemic today.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/jwsr.2006.362

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