The making of Southeast Asia: International relations of a region

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In 1999, when I first discussed with Oxford University Press in Singapore the idea of writing a book on Southeast Asia, the commissioning editor asked for a manuscript that could be used as a text for university courses on the international relations of Southeast Asia. What turned out, however, was not as much a "textbook" (in the sense of being a comprehensive narrative of major issues and developments), but an argument about how Southeast Asia's international relations should be understood and analysed. The book's narrative on Southeast Asia's modern international relations was structured around a central thesis: that regions are socially constructed, and that regionalist ideas, a desire for regional identity and intraregional patterns of interaction are crucial factors in the making of Southeast Asia as a region. Hence, they should be given as much attention as the role of external powers and the balance-of-power dynamics stressed in the traditional literature on the region. It is this argument about the imagination and social construction of the region that would make The Quest for Identity: International Relations of Southeast Asia provocative reading and generate a lively debate among the scholarly and policy community interested in Southeast Asian affairs. In this sense, the book's major purpose has been accomplished.

Original languageEnglish
PublisherInstitute of Southeast Asian Studies
Number of pages348
ISBN (Print)9789814311229
StatePublished - 2012


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