Conjunctures on “ASEAN Citizenship” 1967-2017: Identities, Ideas, Institutions

In: Asian International Studies Review
Adonis Elumbre
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In 2015, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was said to have set in motion a regional community with “peace, prosperity, and people” at the core of its transition towards deeper integration. In 2017, it marked its 50th year - a narrative arc in Southeast Asian history that has arguably defined the region’s contemporary period. What then could be the next for the organization? This paper explores one of those ideas that has been floating around about ASEAN’s future in relation to its people-oriented vision. In particular, it enquires into the abstracted and non-legal notion of “ASEAN citizenship” through identification of conjunctures in the development of the organization. While ASEAN’s lack of a legitimating policy on regional citizenship is understandable given its normative frameworks of intergovernmentalism and non-interference, the paper contends that this notion has already been discursively defined and constructively pursued from within the organization. The resulting narratives on regional identity formation and on ideas and institutions that articulate and generate potential elements of regional citizenship seek to capture aspects of this slippery yet lingering presence of “ASEAN citizenship,” and hopefully contribute to the evolving conversations on the nature and future of ASEAN as it enters a new era.

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