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Browsing by Author "Poikolainen, Anni"

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  • Poikolainen, Anni (2023)
    Ibero-America is a cultural and political space consisting of 22 Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries in the Iberian Peninsula, Latin America, and the Caribbean. This space provides a fertile ground for hegemonic struggles – the concept of Ibero-America has always been contested and the relations between Ibero-American countries have been encapsulated in various concepts with different ideological underpinnings throughout their history. This thesis examines the counter-hegemonic challenge that two relatively new organizations operating in Ibero-America, the left-wing Grupo de Puebla and the right-wing Foro Madrid, pose to the Ibero-American Community of Nations and its highest decision-making body, the Ibero-American Summits, considered as the current hegemonic actor in the region. This hegemonic struggle is examined through two research questions: 1) How do the discourses of Grupo de Puebla and Foro Madrid challenge the hegemonic discourse of the Ibero-American Community of Nations on Ibero-America? and 2) How do the counter-hegemonic actors understand the concept of democracy in the Ibero-American context? The theoretical framework of the thesis is based on the concepts of hegemony and counter-hegemony, rooted in the views of Antonio Gramsci and complemented by Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe’s theorization. To understand the unique nature of the Ibero-American cooperation, the frameworks of regionalism and interregionalism, that emphasize the role of social actors in the construction of regions, are introduced. The analysis is conducted by using Laclaudian discourse theory as an analytical framework, examining the concept of democracy as an empty signifier central to the hegemonic struggle. The data consists of final declarations of meetings and other key documents issued by the three actors. The analysis reveals that the discourse of the Ibero-American Community of Nations leaves the definition of democracy open and susceptible to different interpretations. Conversely, a significant antagonism emerges between the counter-hegemonic actors regarding this concept. While Grupo de Puebla is able to better articulate the organization’s views on democracy and introduce concrete proposals, both actors employ the logic of equivalence in emphasizing what democracy is not. Although the actors do not directly challenge the Ibero-American Community of Nations, they do challenge its empty definition of democracy and the model in which both left- and right-wing actors subscribe to the same definition of this concept. While the counter-hegemonic actors may not yet be sufficiently well-organized to pose a true challenge to the hegemony, this study paves the way for further research surrounding these actors, their discourses, and hegemony in Ibero-America.