Book chapter

Identity in Latin American Regionalism: The Andean Community (2020)

in: Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics


Latin America is usually referred to as a homogeneous region that shares a collective identity based on common history, language and culture in general. As a result, it is broadly expected that collective identity should underpin and facilitate regional integration among Latin American states. However, the idea of a Latin American identity can be problematized, arguing that the concept of "Latin America" is more an exclusionary one than an integrator. Moreover, addressing collective identity as a social construction among state elites reveals the political disputes that lay at the backdrop of regionalism as a political enterprise. The relationship between identity and regionalism in Latin America can be discussed using a study of the role of collective identity in the unfolding of three case studies of the Andean Community. A constructivist approach can be engaged to show that it is possible to observe three dimensions of collective identity in the Andean Community, whose interplay led to advancing regionalism in certain ways but also caused disagreements and failures. Instead of taking a simplistic view of identity as the sharing of similarities, disentangling collective identity into cultural, ideological, and intergroup dimensions helps in understanding that identity is mostly a political issue and therefore a disputed one, and that analyzing the relationship between these three dimensions contributes to explaining the unfolding of regionalism in terms of advance and stagnation.