My research at the intersection of international security and global governance focuses on security regionalism, multilateral diplomacy, and the role of meaning-making practices in world politics. As an IR scholar and a Southeast Asianist, through my developing research programme on multilateralism in the Asia-Pacific, I strive to produce original findings that derive from in-depth study of this region and local practitioners, but that can inform broader debates in the discipline as well as our understanding of more traditional (Western-centric) objects of study. I have published in English and French in International Studies Quarterly, International Affairs, European Journal of International Relations, International Studies Perspectives, PS: Political Science & Politics, The Pacific Review, L'Espace politique, and Monde Chinois, among others. I am also the author of Enacting the Security Community: ASEAN's Never-Ending Story (Stanford University Press, 2022). I am currently working on three distinct but related major projects on 1. practices of multilateral diplomacy in Southeast Asia, 2. The regionalization of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, and 3. competing narratives about the rules-based international order in the 21st century.
Mes recherches situées à l'intersection de la sécurité internationale et de la gouvernance globale portent sur le régionalisme sécuritaire, la diplomatie multilatérale et le rôle du discours dans la construction sociale de la politique mondiale. Mes travaux ont été publiés en anglais et en français dans International Studies Quarterly, European Journal of International Relations, International Affairs, International Studies Perspectives, The Pacific Review, Pacific Affairs, L'Espace politique, and Monde Chinois, entre autres. Je suis également l'autrice d'Enacting the Security Community: ASEAN's Never-Ending Story (Stanford University Press, 2022). Je travaille actuellement à la réalisation de trois principaux projets de recherche sur 1. les pratiques diplomatiques en Asie Sud-Est, 2. la régionalisation de l'agenda Femmes, Paix et Sécurité et 3. Les récits sur la refonte de l'ordre international au 21ème siècle.
Enacting Security in the Asia-Pacific: Discourse in the Making of an ASEAN Community
Enacting the Security Community illuminates the central role of discourse in the making of security communities through a case study of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Despite decades of discussion, scholars of political science and international relations have long struggled to identify what kind of security community ASEAN is striving to become. In this book, I argue that talk about security is more than empty rhetoric: It is precisely through discourse that ASEAN is brought into being as a security community. I analyze the epic narratives that state and non-state actors tell about ASEAN's journey to becoming a security community, featuring a colorful cast of heroes and monsters. Chapters address a wide spectrum of current regional security concerns, from the South China Sea disputes to the Rohingya crisis, and nontraditional challenges like natural disasters and pandemics. Through fieldwork and in-depth interviews with practitioners, I demonstrate that discourse is key to sustaining regional organizations like ASEAN.
"The field of ASEAN studies has long suffered from the dearth of good scholarship written from critical social perspectives. This excellent effort by Stéphanie Martel goes a long way to rectify that situation. A must-read for all students of international affairs!"
—See Seng Tan, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
"Methodologically robust and comprehensive, Enacting the Security Community offers a sharp and insightful examination of enduring questions about regionalism, governance, and global order. Stéphanie Martel has crafted a compelling and rich contribution to scholarship that deserves to be read widely."
—Laura Shepherd, University of Sydney
"This book is essential reading for scholars and practitioners seeking to comprehend the complex geometry of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). ... Martel demonstrates a commanding knowledge and depth of understanding of current and historical debates on ASEAN. Moreover, the author showcases how these debates connect to wider areas of interest in International Relations."
—Catherine Jones, International Affairs
The research on which this book is based has also led to two peer-reviewed articles in major journals in IR.
- 2020. "The Polysemy of Security Community-Building: Towards a “People-Centered” Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)?", International Studies Quarterly 64(3): 588–599.
- 2017. "From Ambiguity to Contestation: Discourse(s) of Non-Traditional Security in the ASEAN Community," The Pacific Review 30(4): 549-565.
Multilateral Diplomacy as Practice: Identity, Contest and Change in Asia-Pacific Regionalism
Multilateralism increasingly occurs on a regional basis and in venues not primarily controlled by the West. As a result, what counts as appropriate diplomatic practice is the terrain of increasing contestation. This is the core focus of this research project, which studies the impact of contestation over diplomatic practice on the resilience of multilateral institutions. At the empirical level, I focus on the Indo-Pacific and the case of ASEAN in particular as a prime example of this emerging but understudied trend in regional and global governance. This project is the next step in my broader research program on the evolution of multilateral governance in Southeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific, which builds on areas of inquiry arising from doctoral and post-doctoral research. It draws on recent debates in the International Relations literature on the role of discourse and practice in the social construction of world politics, and makes empirical, theoretical, and methodological contributions to the study of global governance, multilateralism, and diplomacy. Its main objective is to develop a new framework to better account for the role of contestation in the resilience of multilateral institutions beyond the West. I will achieve this objective by conducting a detailed analysis of key instances of contestation in the recent evolution of ASEAN, supported by semi-directed interviews with practitioners of Indo-Pacific multilateralism.
- with Aarie Glas. 2022. “The contested meaning-making of diplomatic norms: competence in practice in Southeast Asian multilateralism." European Journal of International Relations. OnlineFirst: https://doi.org/10.1177/13540661221133194
***This article won the 2019 Best Paper Award and 2019 Best New Scholar Award from the ISA Asia-Pacific Region.
- with Aarie Glas. n.d. "Boundary Work, Overlapping Identities, and Liminality in Communities of Practice," journal article (R&R, Global Studies Quarterly).
- n.d. "Returning Discourse to the Practice Turn: The Contested Practice of Diplomacy in the Asia-Pacific Community", journal article in preparation.
Competing Narratives on the Rules-Based International Order In and Beyond the "Indo-Pacific"
I am developing a new project on the battle of narratives surrounding the "crisis" of the rules-based international order. The first step in this project resulted in a policy paper for the Defence and Security Foresight Group (an expert network in which I co-lead the Asia-Pacific Team), which I am currently in the process of adapting for submission to a scholarly journal.
- 2020. “Unpacking the Crisis of the Rules-Based International Order: Competing Hero Narratives and Indo-Pacific Alternatives.” DSFG Working Paper. Online: https://uwaterloo.ca/defence-security-foresight-group/sites/ca.defence-security-foresight-group/files/uploads/files/dsfg_workingpaper_martel_rbio.pdf
- n.d. “Unpacking the Crisis of the Rules-Based International Order: Competing Hero Narratives and Indo-Pacific Alternatives," journal article in preparation.
The regionalization of Women, Peace and Security
This collaborative project (funded by a SSHRC Insight Grant) with Stéfanie von Hlatky (PI) and Yolande Bouka investigates variations in regional approaches to the WPS agenda to explain why international organizations, namely NATO, ASEAN, and the AU, and their member states, approach WPS implementation differently at regional, national, and local levels of security governance. We ask: what are the regional logics that inform the design and implementation of the WPS agenda? To answer this question, we adopt a “communities of practice” approach to account for the multiplicity of actors that define security practices in various regional contexts, which ultimately impact how the WPS agenda is adapted and carried out. As an alliance, NATO values cohesion to manage joint activities effectively across operational settings. Its implementation of the WPS agenda is thus decidedly militarized. On the other hand, WPS implementation in the context of ASEAN and the other regional fora in which it exercises institutional “centrality” is still incipient and is tied to the organization’s existing approach to security, which emphasizes non-military and transnational issues. Finally, in Africa, where recent decades of conflict have driven much of the United Nations’ (UN) work on WPS, the AU’s experience has been primarily focused on the intersection of gender equality, development and the achievement of sustainable peace on the continent. This project analyzes how differentiated approaches to WPS impact the discourses and practices that inform these organizations’ day-to-day activities.
This project has already resulted in a scholarly journal article in which I am the lead author:
- with Jennifer Mustapha and Sarah E. Sharma. 2022. “Women, Peace and Security governance in the Asia–Pacific: a multi-scalar field of discourse and practice." International Affairs 98(2): 727–746.
In addition to these major projects, I have published and in progress work on a number of additional, collaborative projects. You can find the complete list of my publications in my C.V., following this link.