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

Chakma, Bhumitra


Dr Bhumitra Chakma
Senior Lecturer, Director of the South Asia Project and Programme Director for BA Politics and International Relations


'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.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date May 28, 2018
Print ISSN 1948-0881
Electronic ISSN 1948-108X
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 14
Issue 2
Pages 189-205
APA6 Citation Chakma, B. (2018). SAARC and region-building: is South Asia a region?. Journal of the Indian Ocean Region, 14(2), 189-205. doi:10.1080/19480881.2018.1478272
Keywords Region; Regionalism; South Asia; SAARC; BIMSTEC; Security Complex
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