Oscillations: Short-­term Domestic Policy Considerations and Regional Integration in Southeast Asia and Southern Africa

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Paper presented at the International Studies Association (ISA) Global South Caucus (GSCIS) Conference 2015, Singapore

Do short‐term domestic considerations make member states neglect long-term goals for regional integration? The question is addressed by examining the evolution of regionalism in Southeast Asia and eastern and southern Africa. The IPE theory, realism, provides the core lens for viewing the evolution. A comprehensive outlook incorporating other IPE, historical, and sociocultural approaches is concurrently adopted and the examination conducted at international, state, and grassroots levels. Colonialism, independence, policy reforms, crises and grassroots cross-border interactions affect regionalism. A notable phenomenon is also revealed: if integration represented the opposite of fragmentation, then the evolutionary behavior of, respectively, Asian and African regionalism is comparable to an oscillating pendulum. Members are sometimes keen on regionalism but withdraw at other times. Regional states should turn from claiming state sovereignty against regional goals. Regionalism would also flourish if regional leaders focused less on consolidating domestic power. Authorities should encourage grassroots cross‐border activities to promote bottom-up integration.

Regionalism, Regional Integration, Regionalization, Regional Fragmentation, Non-­state Actors, ASEAN, COMESA/SADC

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