The article provides a thematic and theoretically informed introduction into this EJEAS issue on East Asian regionalism. Its point of departure is the obvious paralysis of East Asian regionalism during and after the Asian financial crisis. It examines as to what extent the subsequent efforts towards damage control and revitalization have lead to a re-invention of East Asian regional institutions as frequently urged in the region. By reviewing the more recent literature and the contributions assembled in the issue, the article notes that despite the crisis the trend towards institutionalist and constructivist theoretical approaches continues. These approaches however often tend to exhibit a certain cooperative bias which may blur the proclivity of foreign policy-makers in the region for political realism. Subsequent sections examine the cohesion of regional institutions and horizontal institutional differentiation. The article concludes that despite a proliferation of regional institutions, there has been no marked deepening of regional groupings and that regime building, as a approach to the management of inter-dependence, has not made noteworthy progress in a broad array of policy areas contending with border-crossing policy problems.
The article examines whether, and how far, the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) has triggered a discourse on labour migration in ASEAN member countries which exhibits a tendency towards securitising the free flow of labour. It begins with the observation that fears linger in ASEAN’s member countries that market liberalisation may not only lead to a flooding with imported goods, but also intensify intra-regional labour migration. The ushering in of the AEC can thus be considered a critical juncture facilitating ideational changes and so exacerbating labour migration politicisation. Resting on the Copenhagen School’s securitisation theory and a discourse analysis of 72 newspaper articles, and based on a taxonomy of politicisation, the article’s major findings are that the level of politicisation is limited in the four countries under investigation. Surprisingly, it is higher in Indonesia than in Singapore and Malaysia where securitisation effects would have been expected. Explanations suggest that issues such as terrorism and maritime border concerns are currently more conducive for securitisation. In Indonesia and Singapore, the level of politicising post-AEC labour migration is higher than in Malaysia and the Philippines due to deeply inculcated vulnerability and survival discourses, which let elites respond seismically to global and regional developments.
The article provides an introduction into this EJEAS issue on democratisation and international migration. Third Wave democratisation and the recent unprecedented increase in international labour migration may have the same structural origins, but so far few attempts have been made to link the two research agendas. One explanation might be that existing research on democratisation has neglected the exogenous dimension, and that migration research was preoccupied with destination countries. By drawing from the contributions to this Issue and the literature on norm diffusion, we argue that migrants have the potential to act as norm entrepreneurs and as agents of democratisation. The article maps out three avenues of norm diffusion: Migration can be the cause for changes of political attitudes at the individual level, it can be an enabling factor for collective action and it may lead to institutional change at the national and global level. To further assess how precisely these pathways might support or impede democratisation, more theory-guided empirical studies on the subject are urgently needed.
This two-part Special Issue has examined the migration–sovereignty nexus in the context of intra-regional migration in Asia, with specific focus on Southeast Asia (‘Special Issue’). The sub-region represents the perfect laboratory for teasing out the complexities involved in (actual and rhetorical) attempts made by states to control and regulate migration in what has become a space characterised by increasing diversity of (collective and individual) actors operating at various levels. The diversity, complexity and breadth of migratory movements discussed in this Special Issue thus constitute one of the policy fields where the sovereignty norm clashes with the need to manage interdependence. The seven empirical studies in this Special Issue have examined current political, economic, social and legal dimensions of migration in Southeast Asia from an interdisciplinary perspective, linking the discussion of the migration–sovereignty nexus to ‘regional migration regimes’, ‘the transnational–national intersection’ and ‘grass-roots responses’. The common message that emerges from the papers in this issue—that state sovereignty in the area of migration is being challenged from multiple levels—leads us to argue for a future research agenda which would align the study of sovereignty more closely with governance studies as well as studies on norm diffusion. Such an agenda would contribute new insights into emerging forms of sovereignty beyond the confines of the state.