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The Borderlands of Southeast Asia: Geopolitics, Terrorism, and Globalization

Overview

FROM THE AUTHORS: As an academic field in its own right, the topic of border studies is experiencing a revival in university geography courses as well as in wider political commentary. Of course, something about the postmodernist sensibility readily embraces the ambiguity, impermanence, transience, and twilight nature of bordered spaces among the planet's 192 territorially defined states. But we have another motivation in assembling this book, one rooted in contemporary rivalries sited in one of the world's most ...
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More About This Book

Overview

FROM THE AUTHORS: As an academic field in its own right, the topic of border studies is experiencing a revival in university geography courses as well as in wider political commentary. Of course, something about the postmodernist sensibility readily embraces the ambiguity, impermanence, transience, and twilight nature of bordered spaces among the planet's 192 territorially defined states. But we have another motivation in assembling this book, one rooted in contemporary rivalries sited in one of the world's most open regions. Until recently, border studies in contemporary Southeast Asia ap¬peared as an afterthought at best to the politics of interstate rivalry and national consolidation. The maps set out all agreed postcolonial lines. Meanwhile, the physical demarcation of these boundaries lagged. Large slices of territory, on land and at sea, eluded definition or delineation. That comforting ambiguity has disappeared. Both evolving tech¬nologies and price levels enable rapid resource extraction in places, and in volumes, once scarcely imaginable. The old adage that God really does have a sense of humor ("after all, look where He/She put the oil") holds as true in Southeast Asia as in the Middle East. The beginning of the 21st century's second decade is witnessing an intensifying diplomacy, both state-to-state and commercial, over off¬shore petroleum. In particular, the South China Sea has moved from being a rather arcane area of conflict studies to the status of a bellwether issue. Along with other contested areas in the western Pacific and south Asia, the problem increasingly defines China's regional relationships in Asia-and with powers outside the region, especially the United States. Yet intraregional territorial differences also hobble multilat¬eral diplomacy to counter Chinese claims. For the region's national governments, the window for submission and adjudication of maritime claims under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas marks a legal checkpoint, but daily management of borders remains burdened by retrospective baggage. The contributors to this book emphasize this mix of heritage and history as the primary leitmotif for contemporary border rivalries and dynamics. Whether the region's 11 states want it or not, their bor¬dered identity is falling into ever sharper definition-if only because of pressure from extraregional states. Chinese state and commercial power dovetails almost seamlessly with Beijing's formal territorial demands. Yet subregional rivalries and latent suspicions also remain firmly in place-as in those among Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia, or between Thailand and those states that encircle the kingdom. Tracing back to its history of tributary states, the Chinese colossus has fixed views about all states contiguous to its territory; in some Chinese dialects, Vietnam is still referred to as a "renegade province." We chose to organize the chapters by country to elicit a broad range of thought and approach as much as for the specific areas or nation-states examined in each chapter. For both Southeast Asia and the outside world, the current era portends another unsettled period of border disputes and contentious territorial claims. Complex claims also have unsettled the Arctic and inland seas like the Caspian. The precision we laud in global positioning and tracking systems has also wreaked havoc on the apparent certainties bequeathed by all the carefully surveyed (at least by 19th-century standards) boundaries left behind by the departing colonial powers. Of course, these new uncertainties about the place on the terrain of exact map coordinates can probably remain safely unsettled for a long time-but only so long as no resource discoveries emerge, which can lift the problem from obscurity to prominence in the political equivalent of a heartbeat. Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS) at the National Defense University (NDU).
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781470111014
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • Publication date: 8/16/2011
  • Pages: 278
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.58 (d)

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