Discourses and Practices of the Regionalisation of Foreign & Security Policies. Cases of West Africa & South America

Elisa Lopez Lucia

LUISS Open Access. Dec 2014 [Link]

Supervisors: Raffaele Marchetti (LUISS) & George Christou (Univ. of Warwick)


The process of the regionalisation of foreign and security policies, its conditions of emergence and evolution, is the core object of study of this doctoral thesis. This research has two aims, first it seeks to construct a new framework to understand and conceptualise regionalisation processes and second, applying this framework to draw conclusions on the paths these processes take in West Africa and South America. In this research I take issue with the way in which IR approaches present regional projects as the ‘natural’ or ‘rational’ response of nation states to a combination of objective and ideational factors. A more thorough explanation requires an account of the ways in which these factors are themselves constituted, maintained and shaped by discourses and power relations between the relevant actors, as well as through the concrete practices the actors deploy. I thus conceptualise regionalisation as an interplay between discourses and practices of actors ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ the region. Methodologically, the analysis uses a poststructuralist discourse analysis and an interpretative process tracing that relies mainly on ethnographic work. The key empirical findings of this thesis are twofold. First, historically constituted discourses are crucial in determining the form and extent of the regionalisation process – in particular the key articulations linking the concepts of state/nation and region. Second, the comparison allowed me to demonstrate that regions are not independent units: they are part of an international system where actors (re)produce discourses carrying certain norms, concepts and meanings such as ‘security’, ‘development’, ‘regional integration’, etc. It is precisely the encounter between the regional and ‘external’ actors discourses which constitutes the process of regionalisation. The meaning given to security, in particular, which emerges at the intersection of these discourses, decisively frames the process towards either cooperation between sovereign states or the building of a regional political community.

This project receives funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No 722826.