The Global South is a term often used to identify lower income countries on one side of the so-called global North–South divide, the other side being the countries of the Global North. As such the term does not inherently refer to a geographical south; for example, most of the Global South is actually within the Northern Hemisphere. The term, as used by governmental and development organizations, was first introduced as a more open and value free alternative to "Third World" and similar potentially "valuing" terms like developing countries. Countries of the Global South have been described as newly industrialized or in the process of industrializing and frequently have a history of colonialism by Northern, often European states. The countries of Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, and Mexico have the largest populations and economies among Southern states. The overwhelming majority of these countries are located in or near the tropics.


250px| Classifications by the IMF and the UN The first use of this Global South in a contemporary political sense was in 1969 by Carl Oglesby, writing in Catholic journal ''Commonweal'' in a special issue on the Vietnam War. Oglesby argued that centuries of northern "dominance over the global south asconverged to produce an intolerable social order." The term gained appeal throughout the second half of the 20th century, which rapidly accelerated in the early 21st century. It appeared in fewer than two dozen publications in 2004, but in hundreds of publications by 2013. The emergence of the new term meant looking at the troubled realities of its predecessors, i.e.: Third World or Developing World. The term "Global South", in contrast, was intended to be less hierarchical.

Debates over the term

With its development, many scholars preferred using the Global South over its predecessors, such as "developing countries" and "Third World". Leigh Anne Duck, co-editor of ''Global South'', argued that the term is better suited at resisting "hegemonic forces that threaten the autonomy and development of these countries." Alvaro Mendez, co-founder of the London School of Economics and Political Science's Global South Unit, have applauded the empowering aspects of the term. In an article, ''Discussion on Global South,'' Mendez discusses emerging economies in nations like China, India and Brazil. It is predicted that by 2030, 80% of the world's middle-class population will be living in developing countries. The popularity of the term "marks a shift from a central focus on development and cultural difference" and recognizes the importance of geopolitical relations. Critics of this usage often argue that it is a vague blanket term". Others have argued that the term, its usage, and its subsequent consequences mainly benefit those from the upper classes of countries within the Global South; who stand "to profit from the political and economic reality fexpanding south-south relations." According to scholar Anne Garland Mahler, this nation-based understanding of the Global South is regarded as an appropriation of a concept that has deeper roots in Cold War radical political thought. In this political usage, the Global South is employed in a more geographically fluid way, referring to "spaces and peoples negatively impacted by contemporary capitalist globalization." In other words, "there are economic Souths in the geographic North and Norths in the geographic South." Through this geographically fluid definition, another meaning is attributed to the Global South where it refers to a global political community that is formed when the world’s "Souths" recognize one another and view their conditions as shared.


The geographical boundaries of the Global South remain a source of debate. Some scholars agree that the term is not a "static concept." Others have argued against "grouping together a large variety of countries and regions into one category ecause ittends to obscure specific (historical) relationships between different countries and/or regions" and the power imbalances within these relationships. This "may obscure wealth differences within countries – and, therefore, similarities between the wealthy in the Global South and Global North, as well as the dire situation the poor may face all around the world." The term is not strictly geographical, and is not "an image of the world divided by the equator, separating richer countries from their poorer counterparts." Rather, geography should be more readily understood as economic and migratory, the world understood through the "wider context of globalization or global capitalism."

Uses of the term

''Global South'' "emerged in part to aid countries in the southern hemisphere to work in collaboration on political, economic, social, environmental, cultural, and technical issues." This is called South–South cooperation (SSC), a "political and economical term that refers to the long-term goal of pursuing world economic changes that mutually benefit countries in the Global South and lead to greater solidarity among the disadvantaged in the world system." The hope is that countries within the Global South will "assist each other in social, political, and economical development, radically altering the world system to reflect their interests and not just the interests of the Global North in the process." It is guided by the principles of "respect for national sovereignty, national ownership, independence, equality, non-conditionality, non-interference in domestic affairs, and mutual benefit." Countries using this model of South–South cooperation see it as a "mutually beneficial relationship that spreads knowledge, skills, expertise and resources to address their development challenges such as high population pressure, poverty, hunger, disease, environmental deterioration, conflict and natural disasters." These countries also work together to deal with "cross border issues such as environmental protection, HIV/AIDS," and the movement of capital and labor. As ''Global South'' leaders became more assertive in world politics in the 1990s and 2000s, South-South cooperation has increased to "challenge the political and economic dominance of the North." This cooperation has become a popular political and economic concept following geographical migrations of manufacturing and production activity from the North to the Global South and the diplomatic action of several states, like China. These contemporary economic trends have "enhanced the historical potential of economic growth and industrialization in the Global South," which has renewed targeted SSC efforts that "loosen the strictures imposed during the colonial era and transcend the boundaries of postwar political and economic geography." Used in several books and American Literature special issue, the term Global South, recently became prominent for U.S. literature. Social psychiatrist Vincenzo Di Nicola has applied the Global South as a bridge between the critiques globalization and the gaps and limitations of the Global Mental Health Movement invoking Boaventura de Sousa Santos' notion of "epistemologies of the South" to create a new epistemology for social psychiatry.

Associated theories

The term of the Global South has many researched theories associated with it. Since many of the countries that are considered to be a part of the Global South were first colonized by Global North countries, they are at a disadvantage to become as quickly developed. Dependency theorists suggest that information has a top-down approach and first goes to the Global North before countries in the Global South receive it. Although many of these countries rely on political or economic help, this also opens up opportunity for information to develop Western bias and create an academic dependency. Meneleo Litonjua describes the reasoning behind distinctive problems of dependency theory as "the basic context of poverty and underdevelopment of Third World/Global South countries was not their traditionalism, but the dominance-dependence relationship between rich and poor, powerful and weak counties." What brought about much of the dependency, was the push to become modernized. After World War II, the U.S. made effort to assist developing countries financially in attempt to pull them out of poverty. Modernization theory "sought to remake the Global South in the image and likeliness of the First World/Global North." In other terms, "societies can be fast-tracked to modernization by 'importing' Western technical capital, forms of organization, and science and technology to developing countries." With this ideology, as long as countries follow in Western ways, they can develop quicker. After modernization attempts took place, theorists started to question the effects through post-development perspectives. Post-Development theorists try to explain that not all developing countries need to be following Western ways but instead should create their own development plans. This means that “societies at the local level should be allowed to pursue their own development path as they perceive it without the influences of global capital and other modern choices, and thus a rejection of the entire paradigm from Eurocentric model and the advocation of new ways of thinking about the non-Western societies." The goals of post-development was to reject development rather than reform by choosing to embrace non-Western ways.

Media representation

See also

* Global South Development Magazine * First World * Eastern world * Western world


{{South-South Category:Economic country classifications Category:Economic globalization Category:Geographical neologisms Category:1960s neologisms