Monday, March 04, 2013

Latin American Political Scientists

Flavia Freidenberg and Andrés Malamud, "Politólogos on the Run: Contrasting Paths to Internationalization of Southern Cone Political Scientists." Latin American Politics & Society 55, 1 (Spring 2013): 1-21.

Abstract (full text is gated).

Political scientists from the Southern Cone have enriched the discipline with pioneering work. Many of them went into exile for political reasons, and thus produced part of their work abroad. Although Latin American political science has professionalized since the 1980s, many scholars still emigrate for study and employment. Argentines most numerously seek academic careers abroad, while Brazil has many more domestic doctorates and returns home after doctoral studies abroad. Uruguayans emigrate in proportionally high numbers and tend to settle in Latin American countries, while the number of Chileans and Paraguayans abroad is minimal. These contrasting patterns are explained by reference to factors such as the availability of high-quality doctoral courses, financing for postgraduate studies, and the absorptive capacity of national academic markets. Paradoxically, the size and performance of the diasporas may increase rather than reduce the visibility and impact of national political science communities.

This is the sort of thing that deserves more attention, since political science (like many other disciplines) has long been dominated by the United States (and to a lesser extent Europe) but there is more and more cross-pollination. As the authors note, however, they chose their cases on the dependent variable--people who left--and so there is a lot left to explain. The vast majority of respondents are also Argentine, which leaves open the question about why people didn't leave other countries.

I think of the Chilean case, where there are plenty of well known political scientists who received their Ph.D. abroad and then returned to become professors at various universities in Chile.

Overall, this type of study can fruitfully connect to the broader question of how much higher education is valued in each country. To what degree do governments value "brain gain"?


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