Contested Visions of Asia and Europe: Competing Institutional Frameworks in Regional Economics and Security
This master thesis examines various competing visions of regional integration in Asia and Europe from a comparative, historical, and theoretical perspective. Major theories of regional integration developed after WWII are critically scrutinized, such as neo-functionalism, liberal inter-governmentalism, constructivism and institutionalism/s, to ascertain if they apply to Asian regional integration. Moreover, the epistemological and ontological assumptions of these theories are scrutinized and synthesized in order to build a holistic theoretical framework that connects political, economic and socio-cultural dimensions.
Furthermore, this thesis examines and unpacks how various ideational and material forces interactively shape different visions of Asia and Europe. Ideationally, the competing visions of Asia and Europe in the 20th and the early 21st centuries are explored and deconstructed. These competing and constantly changing visions elucidate the fluid, dynamic, and evolving nature of these visions, which were created, developed and utilized by various actors for certain interests and purposes. In addition, the material manifestations of these ideas in various institutional frameworks are analyzed, such as the EU, ASEAN, the APT, the ASEM and APEC. In particular, the analysis focuses on the origin and evolution of competing regional trade arrangements and security configurations, such as the TPP, RCEP, and NATO. In addition, it clarifies three key distinctive concepts: region, regionalism and regionalization.
Finally, the potential collapse of the centuries-old ideational dichotomy of Asia and Europe is discussed. This may open new paths for future cooperation in economics, security, environment, and socio-cultural dimensions. It also generates new imaginaries of Asia and Europe, and perhaps even EurAsia.
Keywords: Asia; Europe, Regional Integration Theories; Institutions; Trade Arrangement; Security Configuration