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SAARC and region-building: is South Asia a region?

Chakma, Bhumitra


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Dr Bhumitra Chakma
Senior Lecturer, Director of the South Asia Project and Director of Postgraduate Studies (Research and Taught Programmes)


'Region' is a contested concept. Although scholars have extensively debated the issue, there is no consensus on the definition of region. While some scholars emphasise geographic proximity as a key factor, others put importance to cognitive and ideational factors, yet some others seek to combine the two perspectives to define region. Against such a background, this paper explains the complexities of defining South Asia as a region. It explores the historical evolution of the identification of the region and analyses how region building in recent decades, instead of consolidating its regionness, has produced a multiplicity of discourses, narratives and meanings about South Asia as a region. This is particularly evident if South Asia is examined in terms of 'economic', 'security' and 'cultural' region. Importantly, these discourses, narratives and meanings are not necessarily symmetrical and compatible with each other although they co-exist in an uneasy manner at both regional and national levels. And, they are contingent and subject to change over time.


Chakma, B. (2018). SAARC and region-building: is South Asia a region?. Journal of the Indian Ocean Region, 14(2), 189-205.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 15, 2018
Online Publication Date May 28, 2018
Publication Date May 28, 2018
Deposit Date Sep 13, 2018
Publicly Available Date Nov 29, 2019
Print ISSN 1948-0881
Electronic ISSN 1948-108X
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 14
Issue 2
Pages 189-205
Keywords Region; Regionalism; South Asia; SAARC; BIMSTEC; Security Complex
Public URL
Publisher URL
Contract Date Sep 14, 2018


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