Edited by James Clad, Sean M. McDonald, and Bruce Vaughn
New from NDU Press for the Center for Strategic Research, Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University
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. Until recently, border studies in contemporary Southeast Asia appeared 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 technologies and price levels enable rapid resource extraction in places, and in volumes, once scarcely imaginable. The beginning of the 21st century’s second decade is witnessing an intensifying diplomacy, both state-to-state and commercial, over offshore 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 multilateral diplomacy to counter Chinese claims, and daily management of borders remains burdened by a lot of 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 bordered identity is falling into ever sharper definition—if only because of pressure from extraregional states. Chapters are organized 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. This book aims to provide new ways of looking at the reality and illusion of bordered Southeast Asia.
Edited by James Clad, Sean M. McDonald, and Bruce Vaughn, with contributions from:
Zachary Abuza Richard P. Cronin
Dick K. Nanto
Carlyle A. Thayer