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Cover of Enacting the Security Community by Stéphanie Martel
Enacting the Security Community
ASEAN's Never-ending Story
Stéphanie Martel


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July 2022
240 pages.
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Hardcover ISBN: 9781503631106
Ebook ISBN: 9781503632035

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Enacting the Security Community illuminates the central role of discourse in the making of security communities through a case study of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Despite decades of discussion, scholars of political science and international relations have long struggled to identify what kind of security community ASEAN is striving to become.

Talk about security, Stéphanie Martel argues in this innovative study, is more than empty rhetoric. It is precisely through discourse that ASEAN is brought into being as a security community. Martel analyzes the epic narratives that state and non-state actors tell about ASEAN's journey to becoming a security community, featuring a colorful cast of heroes and monsters. Chapters address a wide spectrum of current regional security concerns, from the South China Sea disputes to the Rohingya crisis, and nontraditional challenges like natural disasters and pandemics. Through fieldwork and in-depth interviews with practitioners, Martel provides clear evidence that discourse is key to sustaining regional organizations like ASEAN.

Enacting the Security Community is an incisive contribution to debates among scholars and practitioners about security communities as well as the role of discourse in the study of world politics, and essential reading for students of Southeast Asian international relations, politics, and security.

About the author

Stéphanie Martel is Assistant Professor of Political Studies at Queen's University.

"The field of ASEAN studies has long suffered from the dearth of good scholarship written from critical social perspectives. This excellent effort by Stéphanie Martel goes a long way to rectify that situation. A must-read for all students of international affairs!"

—See Seng Tan, President/CEO of International Students Inc. and Research Advisor, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies

"Methodologically robust and comprehensive, Enacting the Security Community offers a sharp and insightful examination of enduring questions about regionalism, governance, and global order. Stéphanie Martel has crafted a compelling and rich contribution to scholarship that deserves to be read widely."

—Laura Shepherd, University of Sydney

"This book is essential reading for scholars and practitioners seeking to comprehend the complex geometry of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). ... Martel demonstrates a commanding knowledge and depth of understanding of current and historical debates on ASEAN. Moreover, the author showcases how these debates connect to wider areas of interest in International Relations."

—Catherine Jones, International Affairs

"Martel's focus on discourse shifts the questions usually addressed in the literature on ASEAN as a security community from whether it is one or on the path to becoming one, to how ASEAN uses the language of security community making and the inconsistencies in this discourse. This is what I appreciate the most about the book, and why this is such an important contribution to the literature."

—Alan Collins, Perspectives on Politics

"For an institution such as ASEAN, subject to long-standing critique of its ineffectuality, the apparent lack of progress made on the security dilemmas facing South-East Asia and its member states suggests to many that it is struggling to assume a role in regional security governance. InEnacting the Security Community: ASEAN's Never-ending Story, Stéphanie Martel offers an alternative perspective, arguing that the much-derided process of consensus-building and dialogue in ASEAN governance acts as an instrument of discursive power that constitutes its self-identity as a security community.... Turning to theory development, Martel leverages the case of ASEAN to explore broader questions on what it means to form security communities and the processes involved in bringing one into existence."

—Bradley Murray, International Journal of Asian Studies

"Stéphanie Martel's Enacting the Security Community: ASEAN's Never-ending Story contributes to advancing this scholarly momentum by providing a new perspective on a security community in a non-Western region, Southeast Asia.... Given the author's insights on the evolution of the past and contemporary discourses on ASEAN, the book is requisite reading for those who are interested in ASEAN and security communities."

—Kei Koga, Pacific Affairs