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External Intervention and the Politics of State Formation
China, Indonesia, and Thailand, 1893–1952


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  • Date Published: May 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107679788

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About the Authors
  • This book explores ways foreign intervention and external rivalries can affect the institutionalization of governance in weak states. When sufficiently competitive, foreign rivalries in a weak state can actually foster the political centralization, territoriality and autonomy associated with state sovereignty. This counterintuitive finding comes from studying the collective effects of foreign contestation over a weak state as informed by changes in the expected opportunity cost of intervention for outside actors. When interveners associate high opportunity costs with intervention, they bolster sovereign statehood as a next best alternative to their worst fear - domination of that polity by adversaries. Sovereign statehood develops if foreign actors concurrently and consistently behave this way toward a weak state. This book evaluates that argument against three 'least likely' cases - China, Indonesia and Thailand between the late nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries.

    • Highlights interactions among major power competition, foreign intervention, domestic politics and state formation in weak states
    • Includes substantial material drawn on primary material from several archives and local-language secondary scholarship as well as English-language sources
    • Brings attention to various roles played outside actors in the domestic politics of state formation in China, Indonesia and Thailand that goes beyond commonly held perspectives
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    • Winner (in Hardback) of the 2014 Best Book Award, International Security Studies Section, International Studies Association

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2014
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107679788
    • length: 304 pages
    • dimensions: 234 x 156 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.47kg
    • contains: 5 b/w illus. 7 maps 11 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Molding the institutions of governance: theories of state formation and the contingency of sovereignty in fragile polities
    2. Imposing states: foreign rivalries, local collaboration, and state form in peripheral polities
    3. Feudalizing the Chinese polity, 1893–1922: assessing the adequacy of alternative takes on state reorganization
    4. External influence and China's feudalization, 1893–1922: opportunity costs and patterns of foreign intervention
    5. The evolution of foreign involvement in China, 1923–52: rising opportunity costs and convergent approaches to intervention
    6. How intervention remade the Chinese state, 1923–52: foreign sponsorship and the building of sovereign China
    7. Creating Indonesia, 1893–1952: major power rivalry and the making of sovereign statehood
    8. Siam stands apart, 1893–1952: external intervention and rise of a sovereign Thai state
    9. Domesticating international relations, externalizing comparative politics: foreign intervention and the state in world politics.

  • Author

    Ja Ian Chong, National University of Singapore
    Ja Ian Chong is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the National University of Singapore. He received his PhD in politics from Princeton University in 2008 and was a 2008–9 Research Associate with the Princeton-Harvard China and the World Program. His research has received support from the Chiang Ching-kuo International Foundation for Scholarly Exchange, the Woodrow Wilson Society of Fellows, the Bradley Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the Princeton Institute of International and Regional Studies and the Princeton East Asian Studies Program. He has worked in the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC, as well as the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies and the East Asian Institute in Singapore. He has previously taught at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. His work has appeared in Twentieth-Century China and Security Studies.


    • Winner (in Hardback) of the 2014 Best Book Award, International Security Studies Section, International Studies Association

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