Revisioning Southeast Asian International Relations: New Theories, Methodologies, and Narratives

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Abstract

Southeast Asia is at the crossroads of a range of contemporary dynamics re-shaping international politics: from US-China great-power shifts and ASEAN's tortured diplomacy to respond to the South China Sea disputes to changes in state-society relations involving democratic transitions (Burma) and populist authoritarian rollbacks (Philippines). The scholarship on Southeast Asian International Relations (IR) has not kept pace with the region, however. The dominance of theories like realism and constructivism in framing the post-Cold War research programme on Southeast Asian IR has limited the questions, subjects, and relations pursued in this field. This panel features four contributors who draw on sociology, history, anthropology, and critical political economy to open up the study of Southeast Asian IR along new theoretical and methodological registers. Besides outlining the pay-offs of these new approaches to Southeast Asian IR, the panel has three broader theoretical aims. One, to suggest new modes of studying power in IR (beyond materialism and idealism). Two, to think about new ways of anchoring international politics to state-society relations and domestic politics. And three, to ask whether the study of core traditional concerns in IR – balancing, identity, norms etc.– can be reinvigorated using these new approaches.