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North America in Question

North America in Question: Regional Integration in an Era of Economic Turbulence

Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 424
  • Book Info
    North America in Question
    Book Description:

    InNorth America in Question, leading analysts from Canada, the United States, and Mexico provide theoretically innovative and rich empirical reflections on current challenges sweeping the continent and on the faltering political support for North American regionalism.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9034-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Contributors
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. Introduction: North America in Question
    (pp. 3-30)

    Recent discussions of the North American region have had an air of scepticism, uncertainty, resignation, and even gloom. The idea that North America – viewed herein as Canada, the United States, and Mexico – is evolving toward a more deeply integrated region is unravelling. Strong and politically threatening lobbies have emerged to oppose the North American project, and North America appears to lack a broad constituency for pursuing new forms of cooperation. Whether through a continuation of top-down trilateralism or through a revamped continentalism from below through cross-border civil society engagement, North American trilateral engagement is at its lowest level since the...

  6. Part I: North America and Political-Economic Turbulence

    • 1 Global Economic Crisis and Regionalism in North America: Region-ness in Question?
      (pp. 33-52)

      The global economic crisis that erupted in October 2008 affected the major regions of the world unevenly. Emerging giants in Asia such as India and China were only briefly touched, while economies throughout Latin America suffered recession but in a mild form. Trade and industrial production in Europe, on the other hand, which had slowed considerably over the first half of 2008, experienced a sudden plunge during the six months after Lehman Brothers went bust. And North America, arguably the heartland of the global economy, suffered a ferocious economic collapse that by some measures has been its worst period of...

    • 2 Immovable Object or Unstoppable Force? Economic Crisis and the Social Construction of North America
      (pp. 53-84)

      Has the ongoing global economic crisis derailed regional integration in North America? As other contributors to this volume explain (see chapters by Clarkson and Golob), regional integration as a trilateral political project never really had much momentum, and most of what it had was lost even before the onset of the current crisis. Recently, there have been some apparent policy coordination breakthroughs – including the new U.S.–Canada Beyond the Border talks – but these have been strictly bilateral and limited in scope and are not predicated on any longer-term commitment to regional integration per se. The recession does seem to have...

    • 3 Continental Governance, Post-Crisis: Where Is North America Going?
      (pp. 85-110)

      Even before the 2008–9 crisis shook economies around the world, it was clear that North America had missed its chance to become the meaningful political entity, economic experiment, and cultural grafting that many had expected in the first flush of interest about the apparently dramatic new regionalization sparked by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). For a considerable period after 1994, when Mexico had joined Canada and the United States to form NAFTA, observers opined that this newly integrating economic space signified that North America formally had entered the club of world regions (Castro-Rea 2006). The eminent expert...

    • 4 The Mexican Political Security Crisis: Implications for the North American Community
      (pp. 111-142)

      This chapter assesses both the extent of the current Mexican political security crisis and its potential consequences for the future of the North American region. Such an analysis is not an easy task because we are witnessing the unfolding of a complex phenomenon whose actual contours and consequences are uncertain not merely across Mexico but over the entire region. It is an unpredictable situation because of the large number of actors involved in conducting illegal business in several countries, because both subnational and national governments are struggling at the same time to enforce prohibitionist laws against drug trafficking, and because...

  7. Part II: North American Problems without North American Governance

    • 5 North American Community from Above and from Below: Working-Class Perspectives on Economic Integration and Crisis
      (pp. 145-170)

      ‘Community’ is a rich and contested concept. It suggests inclusion, but also boundaries and exclusions. It carries with it a sense of apparently natural connections and self-evident affinities. It may be variously positive and protective, or hierarchical and restrictive. It suggests a space beyond the realm of politics where self-interest may be joined with a more collective impulse in defence of the ‘common’ good. In its definition, certain political and economic options are privileged and others foreclosed. In the context of economic crisis and ongoing political debates about the future of economic integration in North America, the concept of community...

    • 6 Environment and Energy: Prospects for New Forms of Continental Governance
      (pp. 171-195)

      This book explores the proposition that the future of North America as a meaningful political entity is open to question, given the recent economic turbulence and some rather unexpected political realignments. Has North American integration reached a plateau, is continued integration more likely, or is disintegration inevitable? Certainly, the regulation and governance of environmental and energy issues across North American borders will be affected by potentially fragmenting political and economic forces, as discussed in the introduction to this volume. Yet we argue in this chapter that the factor most likely to impact the amount and nature of North American environmental...

    • 7 Borders and Security in North America
      (pp. 196-218)

      Since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the borders within North America have become increasingly securitized and also much more complex. While security has been high on the agenda at the U.S.–Mexico border for decades (see Nevins 2002), the new security measures at the Canada–U.S. border are unprecedented. Peter Andreas’s observation that a ‘Mexicanization’ of the U.S.–Canada border is under way reflects both this new dynamic of securitization and the growing convergence of border policies at the southern and northern boundaries of the United States (Andreas 2005). Yet the historic asymmetries in border policies and practices have not...

    • 8 Continental Dissonance? The Politics of Migration in North America
      (pp. 219-246)

      The American television personality and comic, Stephen Colbert, appeared in 2010 before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Immigration – Citizenship and Border Security. Advocating for agricultural migrant workers’ rights, he stated:

      I’m a free-market guy. Normally, I would leave this to the invisible hand of the market, but the invisible hand of the market has already moved over 84,000 acres of production and over 22,000 farm jobs to Mexico, and shut down over a million acres of U.S. farm land due to lack of available labour. Because apparently, even the invisible hand doesn’t want to pick beans. Now, I’m not a...

  8. Part III: Democratic Deficits, New Actors, and Responses to the Crisis

    • 9 Plus Ça Change: Double Bilateralism and the Demise of Trilateralism
      (pp. 249-276)

      Even as the three NAFTA nations struggle to adjust to times of ‘political-economic turbulence,’ one aspect of the North American regional system that has shown resilience in the face of crisis is its double-bilateral structure. After over a decade of free trade and over a century of other forms of de facto economic, societal, and environmental interdependence, what remains solid is the orientation of the region’s ‘Three Amigos’ towards two parallel bilateral relationships, each one ‘special’ to its respective members, and each one a well-worn channel for managing conflict and cooperation. Notably underdeveloped, if not entirely missing because of these...

    • 10 Paradiplomacy: States and Provinces in the Emerging Governance Structure of North America
      (pp. 277-308)

      As noted in the introduction to this volume, the character of the North American region is increasingly complex and multilayered. While the process of regionalization seems to be faltering at the level of nation-states, subnational relations appear to be flourishing. As discussed in this chapter, the number of contacts, official meetings, signed accords, cooperative agreements, collaborations on policies, and trade delegations traversing the U.S.–Canadian border and far beyond has grown dramatically in the past decade. Several international organizations composed of subnational units (states, provinces, and even cities and metropolitan areas) have grown, developing regular meetings and coordinated programs. These...

    • 11 (Re)Thinking the ‘New’ North America through Women’s Citizenship Struggles in Mexico
      (pp. 309-333)

      The editors of this book ask a provocative question: Does North America exist at all as a meaningful political entity, economic region, cultural idea, or community? This chapter deals with that question from the perspective of working-class and indigenous women in Mexico who have contested the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) as a project for regional governance. My central argument is that despite the constraints that NAFTA and the SPP have placed on Mexican women’s exercise of their citizenship rights, those women’s strategies and activities of localized² resistance help...

    • 12 Democratic Deficits and the Role of Civil Society in North America: The SPP and Beyond
      (pp. 334-360)

      By August 2009, at the North American Leaders’ Summit (NALS) in Guadalajara, Mexico, it was clear that the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) had died a quiet death. The ‘Three Amigos Summit’ had survived the transition from U.S. President George W. Bush to Barack Obama, with Obama meeting in Guadalajara with his counterparts Stephen Harper and Felipe Calderón, but the SPP had disappeared from their agenda. The only apparent reference to the SPP was the word ‘process’ in the last sentence of the summit declaration: ‘We will continue to work through this North American Leaders’ Summit process,...

  9. Conclusion: Will North America Survive?
    (pp. 361-390)

    As the chapters in this volume attest, the future of North American regionalism is very much in question. This integration project was formally set in motion with the implementation of the NAFTA agreement in 1995. One among many different regional responses to the sea changes wrought by the acceleration of economic globalization in the late twentieth century, NAFTA rapidly consolidated the economies of Canada, Mexico, and the United States into the world’s largest economic region. In the early 2000s the NAFTA zone surpassed the GDP of the twenty-five states comprising the European Union; although representing only 7% of the world’s...

  10. Index
    (pp. 391-406)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 407-408)