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The Making of the Asia Pacific

The Making of the Asia Pacific: Knowledge Brokers and the Politics of Representation

See Seng Tan
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  • Book Info
    The Making of the Asia Pacific
    Book Description:

    This illuminating volume critically surveys the power of narratives in shaping the discourse on the post-Cold War Asia Pacific. The author examines the purposes, practices, power relations and protagonists behind policy networks such as the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific and the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council.

    eISBN: 978-90-485-1802-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. 1 Introduction: From ‘Pacific Asia’ to ‘Asia Pacific’
    (pp. 13-26)

    Whose ideas matter? Such is the title of an acclaimed work on agency and power in international relations (Acharya 2009). Ideas and visions, championed by interested institutions and individuals with power and position or backed by those with such, could conceivably emerge as the preponderant ideology of a given environment and even come to be accepted in time as, if you will, ‘the natural order of things’. But as this book will show, political ideas, agency and powervis-à-visthe ‘Asia Pacific’ do not necessarily lend themselves to the seemingly neat and self-evident resolutions that support the standard chronicles that...

  2. 2 The Desire for Essence
    (pp. 27-44)

    The problematic essentialisms that characterise the contributions of Track 2 knowledge networks of the Asia Pacific are also to be found in constructivist writings in international relations, not least those which make the Asia Pacific (or East Asia and Southeast Asia) their foci of study. To be sure, realist/realpolitikcontributions, with their insistence on assuming the unquestioned objectivity of their claims, are the most blatant and readily available expressions of essentialism in Asia Pacific security studies,¹ and a number of excellent rejoinders from non-realist quarters have arisen in recent years (Burke & McDonald 2007). The more interesting and tricky examples...

  3. 3 Knowledge Networks as Agents of Representation
    (pp. 45-68)

    The role of knowledge brokerages as producers and purveyors of knowledge on international life is no longer questioned today, least of all by conventional students of security (Adler 2005; Haas 1992). Likewise, the notion of security studies communities throughout the Asia Pacific region – comprising constituents of the various official as well as non-official national and regional security establishments – as epistemic agents is increasingly acknowledged by scholars for their contributions to knowledge constitution about security in ways positive and negative, depending on the respective appraiser’s normative disposition (Ball 2000; Cheit 1992; Evans 1994a; Hernandez 1994; Jayasuriya 1994; Jones & Smith 2001a;...

  4. 4 Representing the ‘Asia Pacific’
    (pp. 69-110)

    The regional idea of the ‘Asia Pacific’, which arguably furnished its East/Pacific Asian proponents and purveyors with a cultural and political reach well beyond their region’s geographical limits, gained currency during the 1980s and enjoyed wide legitimacy especially during the 1990s. Following the 1993-1998 financial crisis that blighted East Asia, the consequent establishment in 1999 of the ASEAN Plus Three (APT) institution comprising China, Japan, South Korea and the ten ASEAN countries, regional perturbations over the apparent lack of solidarity and support shown by the United States (and US-led international financial institutions) in response to East Asia’s plight during the...

  5. 5 Representing Sovereign States
    (pp. 111-134)

    What I seek to do in this chapter is, as the fashionable expression goes, to ‘interrogate’ the tenuous construction and stabilisation of Asia Pacific state-oriented subjectivities. Subversive effects wrought by the forces of globalisation and transnationalism in late capitalism have complicated, possibly even undermined, the discursive formations that enable the sovereign state, thereby denaturalising a subjectivity that hither-to seemed familiar and self-evident to us. Stated differently, in the face of competing discourses, the capacity of discursive utterances regarding the state to conceal its ‘founding’ conditions has diminished. This study treats discourse as a reiterative and referential practice by which it...

  6. 6 Representing the ‘In/Human’ Faces of Asia Pacific Security
    (pp. 135-154)

    Among the host of knowledgeable practices circulated by Track 2 networks that seek to affirm the post-Cold War Pacific Asia as a region in which an ethic of obligation and responsibility – coloured, for sure, by local variations and idiosyncrasies¹ – has a place, few examples stand out more than regional discourses on ‘non-traditional security’ (Caballero-Anthony, Emmers & Acharya 2006; Dosch 2006; Emmers 2005; Emmers et al. 2006; Jones 2011; Tan & Boutin 2001), ‘human security ’ (Acharya 2001b; Axworthy 1997; Caballero-Anthony 2004a; Evans 2004; Khong 2001; Paris 2001; Peou 2009; Thiparat 2001) and ancillary concepts such as ‘the responsibility to protect...

  7. 7 Representing the ‘Authority’ of Knowledge Networks
    (pp. 155-178)

    This study would not be complete if we did not revisit the question of modern political ‘non-state’ subjectivity and the attendant conceptual problems of such a perspective – a concern that returns us to the issue (considered in the first chapter) of knowledge brokers and entrepreneurs as epistemic agents. Rather than the problematic subjectivity of the sovereign state, we retrain the spotlight in this chapter on the security studies communities that socially construct the world of Asia Pacific security but whose subjectivity – as ‘rational’ and ‘legitimate’ interpreters and articulators of that same world ‘summoned’ to help policy-makers make sense, assess and...

  8. 8 Conclusion: A Plea in Three Parts
    (pp. 179-186)

    Shortly after the Cold War ended, Ken Booth, in appealing for a new language of international relations that would better fit with new realities, gravely announced, ‘Our work is our words, but our words do not work anymore’ (1991: 313). For knowledge networks that contribute to national and regional discourses with the ostensible aim to make the Asia Pacific region a more secure place and space, their words do not only constitute their work. Indeed, it may be said that their words – and the words of the scholarly community who study those communities – constitute and legitimise their existence, if only...