ASEAN and the EU: Arts and Culture Festivals as Tools to Promote Regional Identity?


The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the European Union (EU) are two of the most studied regional integration processes in the world. For different reasons, they are often regarded as the two most successful too. Over the decades, they have however, chosen very different paths in order to achieve their unique visions of regionalism. The EU opted for the creation of consolidated legal tools, binding decision-mechanisms and specialised and permanent formal institutional structures that would foster integration and federalism; ASEAN, in the contrary, has given priority to sovereignty, non-interference, non-intervention, equality and mutual respect for national identity and for each nation's independence.
Often neglected in comparison to security, political and economic factors, culture is frequently considered the "little brother" among the key actors playing towards achieving regionalism, the one with perhaps less strategic impact. Despite this, due to its informality, subtleness and direct implication with civil societies, it could also be argued that culture and the arts have in ASEAN and the EU been instrumental in the long road to achieving regionalism, and even in the push for development of regional identities. In this paper we will tempt to investigate differences and similitude in their regional approaches to the arts as tools for stimulating regional cooperation and a certain "we-ness" sentiment. We will do that through the analysis of their dissimilar strategies and agendas regarding Arts and Culture Festivals: whereas ASEAN mainly organises its own festivals, in the EU there is a strand inside the "Culture-Programme" to which independent festivals can apply if their events have enough "European character". A bottom-up participative approach in Europe, straight planning in Southeast Asia - paradoxically, a more direct intervention by the less formalised organisation.

Author Information
Enrique Banus, International University of Catalunya (UIC), Spain

Paper Information
Conference: ACCS2013
Stream: Cultural Studies

This paper is part of the ACCS2013 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Banus E. (2013) ASEAN and the EU: Arts and Culture Festivals as Tools to Promote Regional Identity? ISSN: 2187-4751 – The Asian Conference on Cultural Studies 2013 – Official Conference Proceedings
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon