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OCLA 2145 - Geopolitics of Energy in Latin America

Type d'enseignement : Seminar

Semester : Spring 2017-2018

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English


Advanced knowledge of Latin American contemporary history, politics and economy. Basic knowledge of the energy sector would be an advantage. Spanish reading comprehension would be an advantage.

Course Description

Latin America is home to some of the world's largest resources across all types of primary energy, be it oil (Orinoco belt, Venezuela; Pre-salt, Brazil), gas (Argentina, Bolivia), hydropower (Amazon Basin; Andes), geothermal (Pacific ‘ring of fire'), wind (Oaxaca, Mexico; Patagonia), solar (Atacama, Chile ; Northern Mexico). Due to the uneven distribution of these resources, the subcontinent also has the world's most oil import dependent countries (e.g. Chile) as well as some of the world's largest oil producers (e.g. Venezuela, Brazil). The national electricity-mixes range from hydro-dominated Brazil to the fossil fuel-reliant Central America. The seminar aims to analyse the geopolitics that result from this diversity of production, import and investment patterns as well as diverging energy-mixes, which are further complicated by layers of regional integration, extra regional partnerships, as well as simmering territorial disputes dating back to wars of the 19thcentury. The course stresses geopolitics as a set of conceptual tools rather than a fixed theory. Therefore, each case study will be approached from both ‘classic' and ‘critical' geopolitical perspectives.


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Course validation

Each student is required to prepare a paper (about 15 pages + annexes) on a case study/an issue within one of the topics of the course sessions, with guidance provided by the instructor. The paper is to be handed in on the Monday before the relevant session, and to be presented to the class (duration: 20 min) with a Powerpoint presentation. The evaluation will be based on the paper (50%), the presentation (25%) and overall participation during the seminar (25%).

Required reading

  • Arie M. Kacowicz (2000), Geopolitics and territorial issues: Relevance for South America, in: Geopolitics, 5:1, 81-100
  • Introduction: ThinkingCritically About Geopolitics, in: Gearóid Ó Tuathail, Simon Dalby and Paul Routledge (eds.), The geopoliticsreader, 2ndedition, London, 1-14
  • Terrence W. Haverluk , Kevin M. Beauchemin & Brandon A. Mueller (2014), The Three Critical Flaws of Critical Geopolitics: Towards a Neo-ClassicalGeopolitics, in: Geopolitics, 19:1, 19-39

Additional required reading

  • Paul Isbell (2008), Energía y geopolítica en América Latina, Real Instituto Elcano - Documento de Trabajo Nº 12/2008
  • GeopolíticayEnergía. Número especial de la Revista Nueva Sociedad (Democracia y Política en América Latina), Julio Agosto de 2006