Covers of Southeast Asia Program books on the backdrop of Encina Hall colonnade.

Publications

Policy perspectives on Southeast Asian affairs

SeAP aims to make scholarship on Southeast Asia widely available to academic and general audiences. Our faculty and affiliated researchers publish peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and books, author policy reports, and provide expert opinion and commentaries. Browse our publications below.

In the Spotlight: The Deer and the Dragon

In this forthcoming volume, edited by SeAP Director Donald K. Emmerson, leading experts explore key issues and aspects of Southeast Asia’s interactions with China. Topics covered include regional security, maritime expansion, trade dependence, infrastructure diplomacy, public and elite opinion, and related foreign-policy options and actions in the context of the asymmetry between the ASEAN states and their giant neighbor.

 

Publications

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    Journal Article

    Robert G Stutter, Chin-Hao Huang
    Comparative Connections, 2018

    Supported by Chinese officials and authoritative commentary, President Xi Jinping continued a moderate and cooperative posture toward Southeast Asia in early 2018, reaching a highpoint in Xi’s keynote address on April 10 at the annual Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan Province. Then, the posture switched dramatically to the surprise of many at home and abroad. On April 12, Xi appeared in military uniform addressing troops in the South China Sea participating in the largest naval review in China’s history.

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    Journal Article

    Donald K. Emmerson
    2018

    Since the time of Lee Kuan Yew (1923–2015), Singapore’s leaders have refused to infer, merely from the country’s size and composition, a need to appease the People’s Republic of China (PRC). They have remained averse to the notion that little countries should kowtow to big ones, and they firmly reject the idea that their country is somehow racially embedded in a “greater China” whose roads all lead to Beijing.

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    Policy Brief

    Shiro Armstrong, Niruban Balachandran, John Blaxland, Ja Ian Chong, Daniel Wei Boon Chua, Karl Eikenberry, Ralf Emmers, Donald K. Emmerson, Lori Forman, Bates Gill, James Hartsell, Richard Heydarian, James Hirai, Yoichi Kato, Evan Laksmana, Justin Nankivell, Kerry Lynn Nankivell, Kaewkamol "Karen" Pitakdumrongkit, Greg Poling, Greg Raymond, Tan See Seng, Huong Le Thu, Barbara Weisel, Belinda A. Yeomans
    2018

    In October 2017, twenty-two scholars from eight countries attended a workshop titled “ASEAN @ 50, Southeast Asia @ Risk: What should be done?” The workshop was designed to facilitate a frank and creative discussion of policy recommendations, with the intention of providing the resulting proposals to ASEAN member states and other regional powers.

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    Journal Article

    Donald K. Emmerson
    2017

    The future of ASEAN is necessarily unknown. Its futures, however, can be guessed with less risk of being wrong. The purpose of this article is not to predict with confidence but to "pandict" with reticence—not to choose one assured future but to scan several that could conceivably occur. Also, what follows is merely a range of possible futures, not the range. The five different ASEANs of the future all too briefly sketched below are meant to be suggestive, but they are neither fully exclusive nor jointly exhaustive. Potentiality outruns imagination.

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    Working Paper

    Donald K. Emmerson
    June 2017, 2017

    The future of ASEAN is necessarily unknown. Its futures, however, can be guessed with less risk of being wrong. My purpose here is not to predict with confidence but to “pandict” with reticence—not to choose one assured future but to scan several that could conceivably occur. Also, what follows is merely a range, not the range.  The five different ASEANs of the future all too briefly sketched below are meant to be suggestive, but they are neither fully exclusive nor jointly exhaustive. Potentiality outruns imagination.

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    Journal Article

    Donald K. Emmerson
    TRaNS: Trans-Regional and -National Studies of Southeast Asia, 2017

    Admirers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are impressed with the fact that it continues to exist and that an outright war has never broken out between its members. Also often praised is the value to the region of promoting cooperation through the consensual process known as the ‘ASEAN Way’. If ASEAN is a talk shop, these observers say, talking is at least better than fighting.

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    Policy Brief

    Gi-Wook Shin, Michael H. Armacost, Takeo Hoshi, Karl Eikenberry, Thomas Fingar, Kathleen Stephens, Daniel C. Sneider, Donald K. Emmerson
    Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, 2017

    Scholars at Stanford's Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies assess the strategic situation in East Asia to be unsettled, unstable, and drifting in ways unfavorable for American interests. These developments are worrisome to countries in the region, most of which want the United States to reduce uncertainty about American intentions by taking early and effective steps to clarify and solidify U.S. engagement. In the absence of such steps, they will seek to reduce uncertainty and protect their own interests in ways that reduce U.S.

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    Commentary

    Donald K. Emmerson
    The Asan Forum, 2016

    China’s building of infrastructure on land features in the South China Sea is a strategy to gain control over the area incrementally, without triggering actual war. That strategy has, so far, succeeded in large part due to Beijing’s effective use of ambiguity and because fears of unwanted escalation have tended to outweigh fears of Chinese expansion. A recent incident in Indonesian waters involving China’s coast guard is unlikely to cause a significant hardening of Jakarta’s posture toward Beijing.

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    Book

    Ajay Verghese
    Stanford University Press, 2016

    The neighboring north Indian districts of Jaipur and Ajmer are identical in language, geography, and religious and caste demography. But when the famous Babri Mosque in Ayodhya was destroyed in 1992, Jaipur burned while Ajmer remained peaceful; when the state clashed over low-caste affirmative action quotas in 2008, Ajmer's residents rioted while Jaipur's citizens stayed calm. What explains these divergent patterns of ethnic conflict across multiethnic states?

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    Commentary

    Donald K. Emmerson
    YaleGlobal Online, 2016

    Writing for YaleGlobal Online, Donald Emmerson examines outcomes of the U.S.-Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit that took place at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, California, between Feb. 15-16, 2016. He says that ASEAN, with its timid stance on the South China Sea, risks irrelevance and Chinese dominance in that area.

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    Journal Article

    Donald K. Emmerson
    Journal of Democracy, 2013
    "Kishore Mahbubani is well known and well credentialed. The widely published dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore has been listed among the 'top 100 global thinkers' by Foreign Policy magazine not once but thrice—in 2005, 2010, and 2011. In praising one of Mahbubani’s books, Harvard professor Larry Summers stated that 'there is no more thoughtful observer of Asia, the United States, and their interaction than Kishore Mahbubani.'”
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    Policy Brief

    Donald K. Emmerson
    The ASAN Institute for Policy Studies Issue Brief Series, No. 32, 2012

    In a November 2012 issue brief published by the ASAN Institute for Policy Studies, Donald K. Emmerson examines Asia-Pacific organizations working to promote democracy and human rights in Asia.

    He concludes with a discussion about what sort of Asian regional organization would be worth innovating to extend or deepen the reach of democracy in Asia.

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    Working Paper

    Donald K. Emmerson
    Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability, 2012

    In this paper published by the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability, Donald Emmerson discusses the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC), saying: "[The] TAC is a relevant model for a comprehensive agreement on peace and security in Northeast Asia, were such an agreement to become feasible."

    Available for download from the Nautilus Institute website.

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    Journal Article

    Donald K. Emmerson
    Strategic Review: The Indonesian Journal of Leadership, Policy, and World Affairs, 2011

    In this essay, Southeast Asia Forum director Donald K. Emmerson makes the following argument:

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    Book

    Erik Kuhonta
    Stanford University Press, 2011

    Why do some countries in the developing world achieve growth with equity, while others do not? If democracy is the supposed panacea for the developing world, why have Southeast Asian democracies had such uneven results? In exploring these questions, political scientist Erik Martinez Kuhonta argues that the realization of equitable development hinges heavily on strong institutions, particularly institutionalized political parties and cohesive interventionist states, and on moderate policy and ideology.

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    Working Paper

    Donald K. Emmerson
    S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies Working Paper #193, 2010

    The United States belongs to various organizations and networks that encompass countries on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.  The East Asia Summit (EAS) is not among them.  Should the US try to join?  This paper answers that question with a qualified yes:  Despite formidable difficulties affecting President Obama’s schedule of foreign travel, his administration should try to “ease” the US into the Summit, initially as a guest of the host country.  Eventually, pending a review of the EAS’s prior performance and future prospects, the administration may wish to upgrade that status to membershi

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    Working Paper

    Christian von Luebke
    2009

    The relationship between economic concentration and governance remains controversial. While some studies find that high economic concentration strengthens collective action and reform cooperation, others stress dangers of rent-seeking and state capture. In this paper I argue that effects are neither strictly positive nor negative: they are best described as an inverted-u-shaped relationship, where better governance performance emerges with moderate economic concentration.

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    Working Paper

    Donald K. Emmerson
    American Studies Program, Chulalongkorn University (Bangkok, Thailand), 2009

    No crisis is uniformly global.  The suffering and the opportunity that a "global" crisis entails are always unevenly distributed across countries, and unevenly across the population inside any one country.  That said, one can nevertheless argue that we-not the old royal "we" but, more presumptuously, the new global "we"-are in January 2009 experiencing the latest of four dramatic changes that major parts of the world have undergone over the last twenty years.

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    Book

    Richard C. Martin, Abbas Barzegar, Donald K. Emmerson, Daniel M. Varisco
    Stanford University Press, 2009

    As America struggles to understand Islam and Muslims on the world stage, one concept in particular dominates public discourse: Islamism. References to Islamism and Islamists abound in the media, in think tanks, and in the general study of Islam, but opinions vary on the differences of degree and kind among those labeled Islamists. This book debates what exactly is said when we use this contentious term in discussing Muslim religion, tradition, and social conflict.

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