Colonialism and ASEAN identity : inherited "mental barriers" hindering the formation of a collective ASEAN identity
Lee, Jun Jie
Date of Issue2018
S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
As ASEAN enters its sixth decade of existence, one common question that is often asked is whether a collective ASEAN identity can be truly developed among the political elites and citizens of the nation-states of Southeast Asia. However, it appears that there is still the absence of a sentiment of “we-feeling” and regional “consciousness” that is required for the formation of a genuine, collective regional identity. As argued by some scholars, ASEAN remains an imitation community. A puzzle thus emerged. Why has ASEAN been unable to fulfill its goals of “One Vision, One Identity, One Community” as articulated in its ASEAN Vision 2020? This dissertation takes a constructivist approach in its attempt to explore the complex interaction of historical forces that have led to the creation of “mental barriers” hindering the formation of a collective ASEAN identity. In particular, this dissertation will discuss how colonialism has defined the nation-state based on exclusivity and erased any memory of pre-colonial affinities and collective past that could have served as the foundation of a genuine regional identity. This dissertation would argue that the “ASEAN Identity” and “ASEAN Community” will continue to exist only in form but not in substance if the political elites and people of Southeast Asia do not take a “mental leap” to reimagine the region and their identities.
DRNTU::Social sciences::Political science::Political institutions::Asia