Thursday, September 2, 2010

Books on Southeast Asian Politics

This is a list of our recent titles Southeast Asian politics:
  • Resisting Dictatorship: Repression and Protest in Southeast Asia by Vincent Boudreau. Vincent Boudreau's book compares state repression in three post-war dictatorships under Burma's Ne Win, Indonesia's Suharto and the Philippines' Ferdinand Marcos. In each case the dictator faced distinct social challenges and responded with specifically tailored repressive strategies. These strategies shaped the resources, social bases and opposition cultures available to dissidents and in turn influenced the effectiveness of that opposition. The author balances his first-hand research in the countries in question with the social movements literature to consider the long-term interactions between the regimes and their societies in the wake of repression, and the emergence of the democracy movements which followed. This is a thought-provoking book, which offers a truly comparative study on dictatorship, resistance and democracy in Southeast Asia.
  • A Plastic Nation: The Curse of Thainess in Thai-Burmese Relations by Pavin Chachavalpongpun. A Plastic Nation examines the immense role of Thai nationhood in domestic and international politics. Although in fact ill defined, Thainess, or khwampenthai, has been consistently used by Thai leaders to legitimise their power and to defend their economic interests. Not only has the assertion of Thainess been deeply rooted in the private interests of those in power, but it has also been deployed as part of nationalist sentiment to guard against any international norms, often considered as threats to the leaders' own interests. This book is intended for students and professors in the field of Thai nationhood and Thai nationalism, as well as contemporary Thai-Burmese relations. It is also intended for policy practitioners such as those in the government and military.
  • Southeast Asia and The Great Powers by Nicolas Tarling. The success of regionalism in Southeast Asia depends on the attitudes of the states within the region but also on the attitude of those outside it. This book is an erudite and stimulating study on the latter. Placing these states in a long-term historical context Tarling brings out the way in which the rivalries of those powers within the region and outside it have affected the states within the region. He also shows how divisions within the region, and within states in the region, offered invitations and opportunities for intervention from outside, and so perhaps gave Southeast Asia an importance in international relations it would not otherwise have had. Regional leaders appear in recent decades to have recognised what may be construed as one of the lessons of history; if Southeast Asia can provide security for the Straits route, and stable conditions for trade and investment, it might enjoy both peace and a measure of prosperity.
  • Political Change, Democratic Transitions and Security in Southeast Asia by Mely Cabrello-Anthony. The fragility of democracy in Southeast Asia is a subject of increasing concern. While there has been significant movement in the direction of democratisation, the authoritarian tendencies of popularly elected leaders and the challenges posed by emerging security threats have given rise to a shared concern about the return of military rule in the region. This book examines the nature of political transitions in Southeast Asia and why political transitions towards political liberalisation and democracy have often failed to take off. It considers political systems in Southeast Asia that have gone through significant periods of transition but continue to face serious challenges toward democratic consolidation. Some key questions that the book focuses on are: Are emerging democracies in the region threatened by weak, failed or authoritarian leadership? Are political institutions that are supposed to support political changes toward democratisation weak or strong? How can democratic systems be made more resilient? What are the prospects of democracy becoming the defining political landscape in Southeast Asia?
  • Theorizing Southeast Asian Relations: Emerging Debates edited by Amitav Acharya and Richard Stubbs. The recent proliferation of theories of international relations has transformed analyses of Southeast Asia's international affairs. A new generation of scholars has promoted a lively and illuminating debate which has seen the traditional realist/neorealist approach, which continues to hold centre stage, challenged by constructivist analyses. In turn, constructivists have found themselves under fire from an array of competing approaches. This collection engages this emerging debate. It underscores the point that Southeast Asia is now an important site for applying new theories of international relations. It also demonstrates that theoretical frameworks originally developed in North America and Europe have to be adapted to the specific circumstances found in places like Southeast Asia and that this process can enrich theory building. The chapters in this book focus on the realist/neorealist, constructivist, English School and critical approaches. The resulting debate helps to shed light on ways of analysing Southeast Asian relations as well as on the evolution of these key theoretical frameworks.

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