US-Southeast Asia relations; Thailand; foreign policy; Southeast Asian politics
Pongphisoot Busbarat (Paul) is a Dorothy Borg Postdoctoral Scholar in Southeast Asian Studies. His research focuses on ideational approaches to international relations with regards to Southeast Asia, and, particularly, Thailand’s foreign affairs. During the fellowship at the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Professor Busbarat will engage in the research on US-Southeast Asian Relations, examining the normative order governing the relations between Southeast Asia and US. He will also teach the politics of Southeast Asia and US-Southeast Asia Relations.
Before commencing this fellowship, Professor Busbarat was a researcher at the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre (SSEAC), University of Sydney, and the Australian National University (ANU). At these institutions, he conducted research on the role of norm entrepreneurs in anti-nuclear politics, the role of identity in Thai foreign policy, as well as discourse in Thailand’s rural development.
Professor Busbarat received his PhD in Political Science & International Relations from the ANU, and postgraduate degrees in International Affairs from Columbia University, and in Development Studies from the University of Cambridge. Prior to his embankment in academe, he was a policy analyst at Thailand’s Office of the National Security Council (NSC), where he worked on Thailand’s international security cooperation.
Currently, Professor Busbarat is working on a book manuscript entitled ‘Imagined Leadership: Identity in Thailand’s post-Cold War foreign policy’. It advances the understanding how Thailand’s national identity shapes its foreign policy preferences especially towards the mainland Southeast Asia in the post-Cold War era. He argues that Thai policymakers perceive Thailand in a superior position in the regional hierarchy, hence exhibiting a natural assumption of regional leadership. The outcome manifests itself in how Thailand has attempted persistently to initiate its own version of regional cooperation throughout this period, notwithstanding the existing regional arrangements, especially ASEAN. Based on new empirical evidence from newly-accessible archival collections at the Thai Foreign Ministry, this manuscript situates its analysis and interpretation within social constructivism, which offers a rare and innovative exploration into Thai foreign policy beyond the traditional realist paradigm.