Whose Ideas Matter?

Whose Ideas Matter? : Agency and Power in Asian Regionalism

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Asia is a crucial battleground for power and influence in the international system. It is also a theater of new experiments in regional cooperation that could redefine global order. Whose Ideas Matter? is the first book to explore the diffusion of ideas and norms in the international system from the perspective of local actors, with Asian regional institutions as its main focus.

There's no Asian equivalent of the EU or of NATO. Why has Asia, and in particular Southeast Asia, avoided such multilateral institutions? Most accounts focus on U.S. interests and perceptions or intraregional rivalries to explain the design and effectiveness of regional institutions in Asia such as SEATO, ASEAN, and the ASEAN Regional Forum. Amitav Acharya instead foregrounds the ideas of Asian policymakers, including their response to the global norms of sovereignty and nonintervention. Asian regional institutions are shaped by contestations and compromises involving emerging global norms and the preexisting beliefs and practices of local actors.

Acharya terms this perspective "constitutive localization" and argues that international politics is not all about Western ideas and norms forcing their way into non-Western societies while the latter remain passive recipients. Rather, ideas are conditioned and accepted by local agents who shape the diffusion of ideas and norms in the international system. Acharya sketches a normative trajectory of Asian regionalism that constitutes an important contribution to the global sovereignty regime and explains a remarkable continuity in the design and functions of Asian regional institutions.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 200 pages
  • 155 x 235 x 11mm | 294.84g
  • Ithaca, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 10 tables, 4 line drawings, 2 halftones
  • 0801477085
  • 9780801477089
  • 662,901

Table of contents

1 Why Study the Norm Dynamics of Asian Regionalism?
2 Perspectives on Norm Diffusion
3 Ideas and Power: Non- Intervention and Collective Defense
4 Constructing Asia's Cognitive Prior
5 Resistance and Change: Common Security and Collective Intervention
6 Conclusions, Extensions, and ExtrapolationsAppendix: Key Concepts, Regional Definition
Bibliography of Primary Sources
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Review quote

"Whose Ideas Matter? constitutes a carefully constructed historical argument about Asian regionalism that challenges the prevalent top-down constructivist view that ideational forces move exclusively from Western institutions to Asian organizations. Employing primary sources, including interviews with relevant officials and original documents from regional conferences, Acharya demonstrates that Asian actors modified Western ideas to conform to existing Asian concerns. This is an important book, the most thorough explication of how constructivist theory enhances understanding of Asian regionalism. Amitav Acharya has written not only the most thorough application of constructivist theory on Asian regionalism but he has also added a new dimension to that theory on the localization of norm diffusion." -- Sheldon W. Simon * Perspectives on Politics * "In this book, Acharya arguably provides the most clearly stated volume in support of the constructivist tenet that a relatively low level of cooperation in Asia nevertheless has to be regarded as an outcome of normative interactions." -- Ryoma Sakaeda * Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs * "Especially when discussing the Cold War period, the work is an important contribution to the understanding of the history of multilateral cooperation in the region. It usefully complements rational theorizing, as well as the usual explanations of why ASEAN is so weakly institutionalized: incomplete processes of nation-building (for instance in Cambodia and Timor-Leste); intra-ASEAN dissonances (for instance about the future regional role of the United States and China, and contested territorialities in the South China Sea); and the vast economic, social, cultural and political differences between the countries." -- Oliver Hensengerth * International Affairs *
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About Amitav Acharya

Amitav Acharya is Professor of International Affairs at American University, Washington, D.C. He was Professor of Global Governance at the University of Bristol. He is the author of The Making of Southeast Asia, also from Cornell, and Constructing a Security Community in Southeast Asia and coeditor of Crafting Cooperation.
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