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Imagined Proximities: The Making and Unmaking of Southeast Asia as a Region

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This essay adopts an international relations perspective in understanding Southeast Asia as a region and stresses regionalism as the chief agent in regional construction. It argues that the modern, post-Second World War concept of Southeast Asia resulted from a deliberate effort by a group of governments in the region to develop a regional identity based on political and strategic considerations. Regionalism and regional identity were seen by these governments as an important way of furthering nationalism and national interests. This, in effect represented a shift from the colonial, orientalist and geopolitical views of Southeast Asia's regionness to a more indigenous and essential political idea of Southeast Asia emerging out of the evolution of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). "Nations come and go - why shouldn't regions?" Don Emmerson (Emmerson, 1984:20)

Affiliations: 1: Department of Political Science York University, Toronto


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