Dayley, Robert and Clark D. Neher. Southeast Asia in the New International Era.

Author:Alam, Mohammed Badrul
Position:Book review

Dayley, Robert and Clark D. Neher. Southeast Asia in the New International Era. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2013.

Robert Dayley and Clark D. Neher have provided a comprehensive and detailed survey describing and delineating the historical, political, and cultural developments in Southeast Asia. The authors explore the impact of globalization, transnational terrorism, economic volatility, policy dilemmas, and drive toward democratization in Southeast Asia, which has a population of more than 600 million people. Between change and continuity, between a widening gap between rich and poor, amidst contestation between modernization and traditional roots, and between the agrarian economy and rapid strides toward industrialization, the scene in Southeast Asia is a complex one beset with contradictions and diversities. The book encompasses eleven country-specific chapters, evaluating each country in terms of its unique political history, major social groups and institutions, democracy, society and development, and foreign policies. Southeast Asia in the New International Era analyzes contemporary politics of the region at both systemic and sub-systemic levels from the perspectives of both the Southeast Asian region and the larger international community.

Before the onset of recent international forays into the region, the political economy of Southeast Asia underwent influences and experiences from various quarters that included "religious penetration by Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity, colonialism and introduction of political ideas from the west; rise of nationalism associated with the struggle for independence; Japanese occupation, Cold War trauma, and regional economic transition" (p.30). Social patterns in Southeast Asian countries also reflected a village-centric approach as the primary unit of traditional identity along with agricultural economies, urban-based manufacturing and service sectors and patron-client systems, which had influenced socio-political interaction to a considerable extent. It is also equally true that winds of change were quite heterogeneous in various countries of the region, thus fostering varying degrees of development under its fold.

An important element that shaped Southeast Asia has been the arrival and expansion of a number of major religions. Hindusim and Theravada Buddhism, arriving from the Indian sub-continent, brought to the region a Brahmanical notion of deva-raja [god-king], Mahayana Buddhism...

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