The Decline and Rise of Hegemonic Narratives

The Decline and Rise of Hegemonic Narratives: From Globalisation and the 'Asia-Pacific' to Geopolitics and the 'Indo-Pacific'

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Professor Richard Higgott

Distinguished Professor of Diplomacy, Brussels School of Governance

Ideas and words have consequences. The 'Asia Pacific' as an economic understanding of region is giving way, some would say has given way, to the 'Indo-Pacific' as a geopolitical understanding of region. This paper explores the ideational and discursive consequences of this juxtaposition. It focuses on the shift from the theoretical and practical implications of the waning ideational hegemony of neo-liberal economics to the growing hegemony of geopolitical security concerns. It argues that just as a neo-liberal economic approach to the Asia Pacific over-hyped the success and benefits of globalisation as an absolute wealth aggregator and underplayed its negative externalities of mal-distribution and  growing inequality, the privileging of the Indo-Pacific over-hypes the concept of security and underplays the effects of 'threat inflation' and the self-fulfilling possibilities of the privileging of forward leaning geo-political analysis. By way of a short case study, the paper shows how Australia’s strategic culture is now driven more by the US security coda of the Indo-Pacific rather than the economic coda of the 'Asia-Pacific'.

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The Decline and Rise of Hegemonic Narratives

This report was published on Wednesday 17 April 2024.

About the authors

Professor Richard Higgott is Distinguished Professor of Diplomacy, Centre for Security,  Diplomacy and Strategy, Brussels School of Governance, VUB and Visiting Fellow, Robert  Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute.