Constraining Structures: Why Local International Relations Theory in Southeast Asia Is Having a Hard Time

  • Anchalee Rüland
Part of the Palgrave Studies in International Relations book series (PSIR)


Southeast Asia is often celebrated as one of the greatest success stories of late development. In the discipline of International Relations (IR), new departments have been opened, as enrollment has risen steadily. Interestingly, this growing interest is not reflected in the field of International Relations Theory (IRT), since local Southeast Asian theorizing has been marginalized. In assessing the reasons for this absence, the chapter relates to one of the overall questions of the book that seeks to understand the gatekeeping mechanisms within the discipline. Given this gap between an institutional upturn and a theoretical wasteland, the chapter inquires why there is no local Southeast Asian IRT? Six structural gatekeeping mechanisms are evaluated in order to understand the poor state of local IRT in Southeast Asia. Building on a careful evaluation of the existing literature, this chapter argues for Chong’s finding of an absence of non-Western IRT in Southeast Asia, and that IRT in the region is Western-dominated and anything but distinctive. It further shows, and thus goes beyond Chong, that local IRT in Southeast Asia is trapped in a vicious circle, since adherence to Western standards is a criterion for academic success, but also a factor guaranteeing the exclusion of local theorizing.


International Relation International Relation Publication Practice Western Theory Western Standard 
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© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anchalee Rüland
    • 1
  1. 1.Social and Political SciencesEuropean University InstituteBadia FiesolanaItaly

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