2. Getting Asia right. Theorizing International Relations of East Asia

Chairs: Antonio Fiori (University of Bologna) and Matteo Dian (Ca’ Foscari University - Venice) 
Discussant: Giampiero Giacomello (University of Bologna) 

Saturday, 28th June, 2014
Aula Grande


For over four hundred years the international order has been shaped by the overwhelming military and economic superiority of the West. As a consequence most international relations theory has been inductively derived from the European and more broadly Western experience. Until recently, in fact, East Asia was never a primary focus for IR theory.

The end of the Cold War, the economic and military rise of China and other Asian states, such as Indonesia, South Korea and India has been determining an increasingly visible power shift from West to East. Consequently the Western world is fast losing its privileged position as the new powers and actors in the Asia Pacific region started to assert their global relevance. This process could prove to be as critical to international affairs in the 21st century as the final triumph of Europe was in the nineteenth, and America’s in the twentieth. 

Mainstream approaches such as realism and liberal institutionalism find increasingly difficult to explain this transition and, more in general, contemporary realities of East Asian international politics. The region is experiencing increasing levels of financial and economic integration and  an intense process of institutionalization. These developments did not prevent major powers from being embroiled into increasingly serious security dilemmas and territorial disputes.

How can IR scholarship explain this apparent disjunction between an increasingly institutionalized environment, a growing interdependence and the permanent level of political and military rivalry in the area? Why in Asia interdependence and institutionalization rarely turns into friendly political relations? Several major bilateral relations in East Asia appear to be marked by this fundamental disjuncture between economic and political relations (for example China-Japan, Japan-South Korea; China-South Korea; China-Vietnam).

Are current theoretical approaches prepared to explain current East Asian dynamics? Does the discipline need to rethink its key assumptions while approaching East Asia?  The panel welcomes contributions approaching these issues both from a realist-positivist perspective and from a constructivist point of view.



Regional Integration in East Asia. Towards an ‘informal connectivity model’
Silvia Menegazzi, Luiss Guido Carli, Rome

Tokyo Turns West? Japan’s “Pivot” to Southeast Asia 
Antonio Fiori, University of Bologna
Andrea Passeri, University of Cagliari

Does China have a Structural Power? Rethinking the Chinese power and its consequences for the international order
Matteo Dian, Ca’ Foscari University Venice

Japan and China disputing territories in the East China Sea-Do the Realists Have a Point?
Axel Berfkosky, University of Pavia