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State building or state transformation? Risk management at the fringes of the global order

Hameiri, Shahar (2009) State building or state transformation? Risk management at the fringes of the global order. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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This thesis develops a new framework for explaining the effects and possible trajectories of state building interventions (SBIs). This is for both examining specific interventions and learning about the precise nature of the post-Cold War global order – how power is distributed, exercised, constrained and challenged within and between states.

In the post-Cold War years, but particularly since the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks, so-called failed states have become a central security concern for policymakers. In tandem, there has been an influx of practitioner and scholarly interest in international ‘state building’. Prevalent approaches to state building are premised on a static conception of the state and therefore seek to evaluate SBIs in terms of whether they help create ‘more’ or ‘less’ state. In contrast, this thesis examines SBIs as a new mode of governance in the global political economy that is transformative of both intervened and intervening states, leading to the creation of a transnationalising and transnationally regulated form of statehood. Based on a conception of the state as a site of social and political struggle this study examines the ways in which SBIs affect the distribution, production and reproduction of political power in intervened states: Who rules and how? What social and political conflicts are engendered or exacerbated by SBIs, and how are they managed? What alliances and coalitions support the production/reproduction of power relationships associated with SBIs?

The thesis provides a conceptual framework for understanding the complex governance terrain SBIs open up. SBIs are conceptualised as multilevel regimes – sets of social and political relationships, institutions and ideas – that exist simultaneously within and outside intervened states. While preserving the formal sovereignty of intervened states, these regimes are nevertheless established to shape political outcomes by limiting the political choices available to domestic leaders. This is operationalised by opening up and shifting power to multilevel spaces of governance within the apparatus of these countries. Through case studies from Australia, Solomon Islands and Cambodia, the thesis analyses the politics of SBIs and their broader implications for contemporary statehood. Ultimately it establishes that regardless of whether SBIs are successful or otherwise in achieving their stated objectives they are associated with the emergence of increasingly authoritarian, hierarchical and anti-competitive forms of political rule, both within and between states.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation: Asia Research Centre
Supervisor(s): Rodan, Garry and Jayasuriya, Kanishka
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