Research

My research interests center on issues of international security governance, regional conflict management practices and regional organizations, social International Relations theory, and interpretive research methodologies and methods.

I have extensive fieldwork experience at a number of regional organizations, having conducted interviews and archival work at the Organization for American States (Washington, DC), the ASEAN Secretariat (Jakarta, Indonesia), and the African Union Commission (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia).

My research has been published in the European Journal of International RelationsJournal of Global Security Studies, International Affairs, and the Routledge Security and Governance series. Please contact me for copies!

I am currently working on three related projects:

I. Habits and Practice of Regional Security Diplomacy

Book Project: My doctoral research, and now book project, entitled Habits of Peace: Conflict Management Practices in Southeast Asia and South America, explores a puzzling reality: the regions of Southeast Asia and South America both exhibit sustained and substantial levels of inter-state violence short of war alongside sustained and substantial efforts at community-building. This ‘conflictual peace’ is something rarely addressed in international relations literatures.

To explain conflictual peace, 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. Moreover, I argue, these disposition qualities of relations shape patterns of conflict and cooperation over long periods of time. I demonstrate that it is the habituation of particular qualities of interaction that is key to pacific patterns of regional relations.

As I show, while the particular practices of European diplomacy may have produced a classical security community there, in Southeast Asia and South America this dynamic has produced something rather different. There, habitual dispositions structure and pattern relations in particular ways leading to long-term peace yet periodic and violent conflict short of war. In making this argument, I provide an accessible practice-theoretical account of community-building alongside inter-state conflict.

An abridged version of the theory, methodology, and the Southeast Asian case is published as Aarie Glas (2017), Habits of Peace: Long-Term Regional Cooperation in Southeast Asia European Journal of International Relations 23(4): 833–856.

Three recent and on-going projects extend this research across four articles:

A. In the first,”African Union Security Culture in Practice: African Problems and African Solutions” (International Affairs, 2018, 94(5): 1121–1138), I make use of a similar practice-based framework to explore regional security practices at the African Union. I explain the apparent incongruity between the AU norm of ‘African Problems and African Solutions’ and the organization’s dependence on extra-regional actors. I contend that to understand this central norm, we should conceptualize the AU as a community of practice wherein norms are internalized and practiced in particular ways. I show that what appears incongruous to those external to the community is reconciled in and through practice by its members.

B. In the second, “Norms in Practice: People-Centric Governance in ASEAN and ECOWAS” (under review), Emmanuel Balogun (Webster University) and I explore the turn to “people-centric” regional governance at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Using a practice-based framework similar to that developed in my book project, we show that while both organizations have institutionalized the same norm for similar reasons, the officials at each organization understand and enact it different ways. This variation is explained by the particulars of each regional community of practice.

C. In the third project I explore variation in norms and practice of regional governance and conflict management within ASEAN. I am working on this issue across two related papers that remain very much works-in-progress. The first, “Inside and Outside the ASEAN Way: Stigma and Practice in Southeast Asia,”documents intra-ASEAN stigmatization practices. Here, I show that important and institutionalized ASEAN norms (e.g. non-intervention) are increasingly contested in and through practice within ASEAN. An early draft was presented at ISA 2018. The second, “Debunking the ‘ASEAN Way’: The Contested Meaning and Practice of Diplomatic Norms in Southeast Asia”, explores a similar issue with Stéphanie Martel (Queen’s University). Here, we rely on insights from discourse and practice theory to argue that the “ASEAN Way” 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. This debate pits founding members on one side, and newer members, particularly Myanmar and Cambodia, on the other. This working paper will be presented at ISA 2019 and AAS 2019.


II. Multilateral Practices and Global Governance

Along with Matthew J. Hoffmann (Toronto), Robert Denemark (Delaware), and Clifton van der Linden (Toronto), I am engaged in a project that explores the constitutive effects of the practice of multilateral treaty-making in the global context.

Our 2018 article, “Understanding Multilateral Treaty-Making as Constitutive Practice” (Journal of Global Security Studies, 3(3): pp. 339-357), makes use of diplomatic history and social network analysis (SNA) to argue that multilateral treaty-making is a taken-for-granted practice of the international system. Rather than merely a tool used by states, the practice is itself constitutive of both state actors and the international system itself.

This engagement with questions of global governance builds on my long-held interest in the institutions and structures of the post-WWII global order. On this, see my short chapter with John Kirton (Toronto), entitled “Global Governance from America, Canada and the Responsible Rest“, in Debating a Post-American World (2012), part of the Routledge Security and Governance series.


III. Interpretive Methods and Methodologies

I am also working on a research agenda that explicitly interrogates the interpretive and qualitative methods that are the heart of my research.  In particular, I am interested in the exploring role of researchers in the production of knowledge, given contextually dependent effects of power and positionally, and how to teach and learn from these complex realities.

In a co-authored paper, recently presented at APSA 2018 and entitled “Active Reflexivity: Positionality and Practice in the Production of Knowledge” (in circulation), Jessica Soedirgo (Toronto) and I explore these issues directly, offering  hands-on advice for being reflexive and doing reflexivity in the field. An abridged version of this article, “A Posture of Active Reflexivity” is forthcoming (2018) in the Qualitative & Multi-Method Research newsletter.

I have presented on similar issues in the past, including Reflections and Reflexivity: Outsiders in Elite Interviews presented at the 2016 APSA Annual Meeting, and “Habits and Multilateral Practice: Methodological Issues and Insights,” a presentation to The Methods Studio: An Advanced Workshop in Interpretive Methods Short Course at the 2013 APSA Annual Meeting. A working paper drawing on these themes, “Doing Reflexivity in Elite Contexts“, remains a work-in-progress.

I also teach qualitative and interpretive methods and methodologies, so please check out a recent syllabus if you’re into that sort of thing (!). Feel free to also visit the Interpretive Methodologies Methods (IMM) working group at APSA, which I have worked with for the last four years in a number of capacities.

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