ABSTRACT

The “Global South” is an expression that appears more and more frequently in academic texts, the press and in the jargon of social movements, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and solidarity groups. It is often no more than an updated synonym for the Third World, the periphery or the underdeveloped world, and as such it refers only to a group of countries that, while relatively heterogeneous culturally and politically, nevertheless share a peripheral or semi-peripheral structural position in the modern world-system. This is how the expression is used by Boaventura de Sousa Santos (1995: 506–519) who to some extent helped to popularize it. If there is a Global South, there also has to be a Global North; both these definitions are additions to the idea of the traditional “North-South divide” made fashionable by the Brandt Report of the 1970s, which provided indisputable evidence that two regions were taking shape amidst the far-reaching processes of globalization. However, Santos (2002a: 16) also uses it metaphorically to refer to “the systemic human suffering caused by global capitalism”. In other words, the expression alludes as much to a structural as to a moral geography.