Research

I am currently working on three inter-related projects:

I. Regional Security Practice in the Global South

Much of my research examines regional security practices in ASEAN and elsewhere in the Global South. I am particularly interested in comparative regionalism, exploring how different communities of officials understand and practice norms of regional governance and conflict management. In this project, I ask questions like ‘Why do regional officials in South America and Southeast Asia respond to similar territorial conflicts in drastically different ways?’ and ‘Why do ASEAN officials understand and and enact the norm of people-centric governance in a limited way, while those in ECOWAS see and practice the same norm as a means for organizational transformation?’ Below, I highlight my book manuscript (under review) and three recent publications and one article-in-progress within this project.

Practicing Peace: Conflict Management in Southeast Asia and South America.

The book explores a puzzle: Southeast Asia and South America both exhibit sustained and substantial levels of inter-state violence alongside sustained and substantial efforts at community-building. This ‘conflictual peace’ is something rarely addressed in international relations literatures. To understand it, I examine the conflict management practices of communities of state officials in each region. I document the existence and effect of what I term ‘habitual dispositions’ of regional conflict management – distinct and deeply internalized knowledge and relatively automatic security practices that shape how officials understand and respond to conflict. I show that these dispositions shape patterns of conflict and cooperation over long periods of time. My book manuscript is currently under review with a university press (since November 2019).

Aarie Glas (2017), “Habits of Peace: Long-Term Regional Cooperation in Southeast Asia” European Journal of International Relations 23(4): 833–856.

In this article I explore the conflictual peace of Southeast Asia and outline the  practices that ASEAN officials dispositionally turn to in an attempt to resolve regional crises. With an empirical focus on ASEAN’s mediation efforts during the 2011 Preah Vihear conflict between Thailand and Cambodia, I document the existence and effects of a Southeast Asian habitual disposition. I argue that while this set of diplomatic practices may limit the escalation of violence between regional states, it also leads to a toleration of violence and thereby makes possible the coexistence of community-building and sustained levels of inter-state violence in the region.

Aarie Glas (2018), “African Union Security Culture in Practice: African Problems and African Solutions” International Affairs 94(5): 1121–1138.

Here, I make use of a practice-based framework to understand the apparent incongruity between the AU norm of ‘African Problems and African Solutions’ and the organization’s dependence on extra-regional actors. I show that the AU is a community of practice wherein norms are internalized and practiced in particular ways and I document how what appears incongruous to those external to this community is reconciled in and through practice by AU officials.

You can find a journalist account of my article in AllAfrica and the International Affairs Blog.

Aarie Glas and Emmanuel Balogun (2020), “Norms in Practice: People-Centric Governance in ASEAN and ECOWAS.” International Affairs. 

In this article, Emmanuel Balogun, and I explore the adoption, institutionalization, and practice of the norm of “people-centric” regional governance by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). While both organizations institutionalized the same norm at a similar time and for similar reasons, officials at each organization understand and enact it different ways and with different effects. In ASEAN, the norm is understood in a limited and defensive way and practiced as a matter of course in ways that uphold rather than transform existing organizational norms and priorities. In ECOWAS, however, the same norm is understood in more transformative ways and has led to the empowering of civil society actors and major changes to regional security policy. This variation, we show, is explained by the particulars of each regional community of practice.

Aarie Glas and David Zarnett (2020), “Regional Organizations” in Fen Osler Hampson, Alp Ozerdem, and Jonathan Kent (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Peace, Security and Development. New York: Routledge.

In this chapter we survey the history of regional organizing by states and the development of scholarly literature to explain this phenomenon. We also outline the contours of contemporary scholarly debates, from the rationalist design of institutions to organizations as sites of social learning to regional organizations as actors themselves.

Aarie Glas and Marion Laurence (n.d.), “Norms, Practices, and Global Governance: Non-Interference and the Evolution of Conflict Management Practices.” Article in progress.

In this paper, we respond to growing calls in global governance scholarship for more attention to the ways in which ‘quotidian occurrences’ contribute to continuity and change across local, regional and global governance. To date, these calls have been largely isolated from the ‘practice turn’ in international relations. We put these literatures together to examine why and how the norm of non-interference acquires distinct meanings in and through practice within the varied contexts of UN peace operations and the ASEAN Community. We show that divergent interpretations of the non-interference norm are embedded in seemingly mundane practices that have the potential to transform the norm over the long term. The paper will be presented at ISA 2020.

II. Governance Norms within ASEAN

In an on-going project, I am building on the central arguments of my book and 2017 EJIR article to explore variation in the practice of regional governance norms among ASEAN member states. While many scholars articulate a singular and important “ASEAN way”, this project examines variation within the region itself.

Aarie Glas and Stéphanie Martel (n.d.) “Debunking the ‘ASEAN Way’: The Contested Meaning and Practice of Diplomatic Norms in Southeast Asia.” Article in progress.*

In this paper, we rely on fresh insights from discourse and practice theory to argue that the “ASEAN way” itself is best understood as a trope, around which there is growing debate over what counts as both appropriate and competent diplomatic behaviour among its member states. We show that this debate pits founding members on one side, and newer members, particularly Myanmar and Cambodia, on the other. This working paper remains in progress. An early version was presented at AAS-in-Asia and ISA Asia-Pacific in the summer of 2019 and an updated version will be presented at ISA 2020.

*Winner of both the “Best Paper Award” and “Best New Scholar Award” at ISA Asia-Pacific (2019).

Aarie Glas (n.d.) “Inside and Outside the ASEAN Way: Stigma and Practice in Southeast Asia.” Article in Progress.

In this paper, I show that member states understand and enact ASEAN norms in particular ways, and that they make use of stigmatization processes to reify distinctive and indeed novel understandings of long-held regional norms. I focus on how the norm of non-interference has evolved over time within ASEAN, with particular attention paid to how Indonesian officials have understood regional non-interference in relation to crises in Myanmar, including the international response to Cyclone Nargis in 2008 and the on-going Rohingya crisis today.  A draft of this paper was presented at ISA 2018 and it remains in progress.

III. Interpretive Methods and Methodologies

I also examine the interpretive methodologies and methods that are at the heart of my substantive research. In particular, I am interested in the exploring the effects of positionality in the production of knowledge – from how a researcher interacts in the field to how she interprets and represents her experiences.

Jessica Soedirgo and Aarie Glas (2020) “Active Reflexivity: Positionality and Practice in the Production of Knowledge.” PS: Political Science and Politics. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S1049096519002233

In this article we explore a gap between how positionality has been theorized – as intersectional and dynamic – to how it is often practiced in the field – unidimensional and static. Through a survey of our own challenges in the field and those of others, we advance one way to practice positionality, by adopting what we term a posture of “active reflexivity.” We outline the utility this approach and some concrete steps researchers can engage in to be more actively reflexive across different stages of the research process.

We explore similar themes in a short article as part of a wider reflection in QMMR on the legacy of Professor Lee Ann Fujii: Aarie Glas and Jessica Soedirgo (2018) “A Posture of Active Reflexivity: Learning from Lee Ann Fujii’s Approach to Research” Qualitative & Multi-Method Research 16(1): 53-55. 

Aarie Glas (n.d.) “Power, Positionality, and Positions of Power: Reflexivity in Elite Interviewing” Article in progress.

This paper explores the particular challenges and opportunities of doing reflexivity in elite and organizational settings, a context less widely examined in interpretive methods literature. Here, I advance a number of practical means of doing reflexivity in these settings and highlight the importance of recording and interrogating our assumptions throughout the research process. I draw on my experience conducting more than 120 interviews with diplomats and organizational officials from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Organization of American States (OAS), the African Union (AU), and other diplomatic sites, alongside the experiences of other scholars. A preliminary version of the article was presented at APSA 2019.

I have explored similar issues in the past (e.g. papers at APSA 2013, 2016, and 2018) and I regularly teach qualitative and interpretive methods and methodologies. Please check out a recent syllabus!

Feel free to also visit the Interpretive Methodologies and Methods (IMM) Group at APSA, which I have worked with for the last five years in a number of capacities, and the Qualitative Inquiry Collaborative (QUIC) at NIU where I am a member of the executive committee.

Previous Work: Global Governance 

Beyond the three core components of my ongoing research agenda as outlined above, I remain interested in wider debates regarding historical and contemporary global governance. In particular, I am interested in the structures and practices that constitute the international system of states. These interests have driven two additional publications:

Aarie Glas, Clifton van der Linden, Matthew J. Hoffmann, and Robert Denemark (2018), “Understanding Multilateral Treaty-Making as Constitutive Practice” Journal of Global Security Studies 3(3): 339-357.

In this article, my co-authors and I argue that multilateral treaty-making is a taken-for-granted practice of the international system, and has been since the late 19th century. We use diplomatic history alongside detailed social network analysis (SNA) making use of a unique dataset, the Multilateral Agreements and Treaties Record Set (MATRS), to demonstrate the growing use and taken-for-granted nature of the practice. Moreover, we argue that rather than merely a tool used by states, the practice is itself constitutive of both state actors and the international system itself. We show this by exploring critical junctures when states (e.g. the Soviet Union) and groups fo states (post-WWII European states and post-colonial states) could have adopted alternative means to pursue their interests, but turned to multilateral treaty-making as a matter of course and, through doing so, reified themselves as ‘states’.

Replication data is available here.

Aarie Glas and John Kirton (2012), “Global Governance from America, Canada and the Responsible Rest” in Sean Clark and Sabrina Hoque (eds.). Debating a Post-American World: What Lies Ahead. London: Routledge, pp. 221-225.

This short chapter with John Kirton (Toronto)  we engage with questions as to the changing face of global governance as relative power changes internationally, and opine on some prospects for the future.

This volume is part of the, excellent, Routledge Security and Governance series.

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