in: Third World Quaterly 42 (9), 1923-1944
This introductory contribution examines the ‘Global South’ as a meta category in the study of world politics. Against the backdrop of a steep rise in references to the ‘Global South’ across academic publications, we ask whether and how the North–South binary in general, and the ‘(Global) South’ in particular, can be put to use analytically. Building on meta categories as tools for the classification of global space, we discuss the increasing prominence of the ‘Global South’ and then outline different understandings attached to it, notably socio-economic marginality, multilateral alliance-building and resistance against global hegemonic power. Following an overview of individual contributions to this volume, we reflect on the analytical implications for using the ‘Global South’ category in academic research. Insights from China, the Caribbean, international negotiations or academic knowledge production itself not only point to patterns of shared experiences but also highlight the heterogeneity of ‘Southern’ realities and increasing levels of complexity that cut across the North–South divide. Overall, we argue for an issue-based and field-specific use of the ‘Global South’ as part of a broader commitment to a more deliberate, explicit and differentiated engagement with taken-for-granted categories.