Rethinking Middle Power in the Indo-Pacific: New Frameworks, New Cases

Panel Code

A lot of debate surrounds the purpose, or raison d’être, of the concept of middle powers. The objective of the panel is to propose novel perspectives on the theoretical concept and its empirical applications. The traditional approach based on Western states is insufficient and has become increasingly irrelevant in a transformed global environment, in which characteristics of so-called ‘traditional’ middle powers cannot easily apply to ‘new/emerging’ middle powers. The panel aims at linking various concepts from different paradigms and establishing analytical connections among them.

By presenting both theoretical contributions and case studies, the purpose of the panel is to contribute to the discussion on the evolution of the international system and the need to go beyond the current approach which establishes boundaries between Western and non-Western middle powers. Contributors examine middle power and its associated paradigms, paying attention both to the inner development of the theory and to the impact of changing social and international circumstances. The case studies illustrate the global phenomenon of the rise to economic and political prominence of the Indo-Pacific region, by presenting cases of countries which emergence as middle powers is recent, if not ongoing, and traditional ones that are redefining their positioning as Indo-Pacific oriented-middle powers.

In fine, the panel will contribute to the theoretical study of middle powers, offer original perspectives on the concept and stimulate the debate to go beyond its current shortcomings and theoretical boundaries. The presenters offer a new way forward in the academic thinking on middle powers, closer and more connected to the evolution of global affairs.