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Enacting the Security Community: ASEAN’s Never-Ending Story, Stéphanie Martel

Reviewed by Kilian Spandler
 

For scholars and practitioners of regionalism in Southeast Asia, the role of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in addressing regional security issues has long been a point of contention. Some credit the organization for having kept regional tensions at bay since its inception in 1967; others lament its inertia and inability to meet its self-declared goal of becoming a security community. Rather than taking a side in this debate, author Stéphanie Martel, in Enacting the Security Community, dissects its contents and inner workings in an effort “to better understand the effects of discourse on security community-building” (3).

The study takes its point of departure in an intriguing question: Why has the idea that ASEAN should be central in managing regional security remained so widely accepted despite the organization's many shortcomings, which critics and champions alike readily acknowledge? Instead of looking for the answer in member-state interests or ASEAN's normative and institutional architecture, Martel's post-foundationalist approach foregrounds how discursive strategies infuse ASEAN's security community–building project with meaning and political power. The compelling argument at the heart of her analysis is that instability and indeterminacy are inescapable features of ASEAN's securit

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