Transnational economic integration has been described by globalization boosters as a rising tide that will lift all boats, an opportunity for all participants to achieve greater prosperity through a combination of political cooperation and capitalist economic competition. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has championed such rhetoric in promoting the integration of China, Southeast Asia’s formerly socialist states, and Thailand into a regional project called the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS). But while the GMS project is in fact hastening regional economic integration, Bounding the Mekong: The Asian Development Bank, China, and Thailand, by Jim Glassman, shows that the approach belies the ADB’s idealized description of “win-win” outcomes. The process of “actually existing globalization” in the GMS does provide varied opportunities for different actors, but it is less a rising tide that lifts all boats than an uneven flood of transnational capitalist development whose outcomes are determined by intense class struggles, market competition, and regulatory battles.
“This book provides a powerful expose of the hollowness of much of the mainstream institutional discourse on free markets and region-making, as well as the ideological underpinnings of the agendas of the Asian Development Bank and the naturalizing discourse that sees states and regulation as somehow an aberration. Glassman’s analysis is highly original and brings a fresh approach to a region about which a lot has been written in recent years. The theoretical underpinning of the scholarship is more than just sound—it is a tour de force. The book fills an important niche in bringing well theorized analysis to a specifically contextualized region.” —Philip Hirsch, University of Sydney
September 2010 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3444-9 / $55.00 (CLOTH)