Working Paper No. 79
Collective Regional Image: Logics of Consciousness and Modes of Management in Post-Cold War Africa and Southeast Asia
One distinguishing feature of the “new” regionalism is its outward orientation – the increased importance of the external dimension of regional cooperation. It makes sense, then, that efforts to manage external perceptions of a region, on the part of policy-relevant actors in that region, might contribute to important changes to regional norms and institutions. By and large, though, existing accounts of normative and institutional change at the regional level do not explicitly conceptualize and theorize collective image consciousness and management. This paper offers an initial attempt to address this conceptual gap, making use of two cases of regional image crisis (post-Cold War Africa and post-1997 Southeast Asia) in order to draw out logics of regional image consciousness and to distinguish among types of regional image management efforts. As regional communities of states, Africa and Southeast Asia promoted and adhered to a relatively strict interpretation of the principle of non-interference during the Cold War period. In the post-Cold War era, the non-interference norm has eroded in both regions. In each, these developments constituted – in part – a collective image management strategy, aimed at external audiences. Reforms to regional institutions were promoted in part as efforts to ameliorate negative international perceptions.