Theorizing Southeast Asian relations: An introduction

Amitav Acharya, Richard Stubbs

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31 Scopus citations


In the introduction, the editors discuss the emergence of a new body of literature on Southeast Asia's regional relations that is both theoretically informed and stimulating. One element of this literature features a constructivist challenge to realism, traditionally the dominant perspective on Southeast Asian International Relations. Constructivist writings have helped to broaden the understanding of Southeast Asia's regional order by capturing its ideational determinants (norms and identity), the agency role of local actors, and the possibility of transformation through socialization and institution building. But constructivism itself has been challenged by other perspectives, including neo-liberal, English School and critical approaches. The essays in this special issue of The Pacific Review capture this emerging debate. The editors argue that the articles in this special issue are a good indicator of the theoretical pluralism that marks the study of Southeast Asia's regional relations today. Southeast Asian studies need not be dominated by either realism or constructivism, but can accommodate a diversity that vastly enriches our understanding of regional conflict and order.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-134
Number of pages10
JournalPacific Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2006


  • Constructivism
  • Critical theory
  • English School
  • Rationalist institutionalism
  • Realism
  • Theoretical pluralism


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