Joern Dosch reviews ASEAN, Sovereignty and Intervention in Southeast Asia

October 30, 2012

Professor Joern Dosch of Leeds University has written an extraordinarily generous review of my book for the newsletter of the Association of Southeast Asian Studies. Here is an excerpt:

There can be no doubt whatsoever that Lee Jones has written one of the most original, innovative and thought-provoking books on ASEAN of recent years. The term “page-turner” is not usually used to characterise academic works, but this analysis is so clearly and intriguingly written that it is hard to lay the book down. Even the most seasoned ASEAN experts will discover new facets to Southeast Asian regionalism in Jones’ thoroughly stimulating monograph… The book not only makes an important theoretical contribution to the study of Southeast Asian regionalism as it transcends the great divide between social constructivism and neo-realism but, equally important, provides a valuable insight into the way that member states interact with one another… Lee Jones’ book would not be a great one, if it was not controversial in parts.

This is high praise coming from Prof Dosch, whose work on the domestic influences on foreign policy has itself tried to break out of the stale constructivism/realism debate that so stultifies the study of Southeast Asian IR. I quote his unusually honest assessment of the field in my conclusion, when he says that over the last two decades,

despite the impressive volume of analysis, the discourse on Southeast Asian regionalism has not distinctly progressed. This is not surprising in view of the unchanging nature of the analytical object: ASEAN’s lack of institutional evolution, and most member states’ reluctance to touch upon the sensitive issue of national sovereignty, make it difficult for students of ASEAN to add any new and original findings to the debate.

I’m glad that I did not fall foul of this offence!

posted in ASEAN, intervention, review, sovereignty, writing by Lee

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