Deconstructing the discourse on epistemic agency
A Singaporean tale of two ‘essentialisms’
in Critical Security in the Asia-Pacific
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The Singaporean state is treated as the agent of security par excellence. The notion of security studies communities based in Singapore as epistemic agents is acknowledged by analysts for their perceived contributions to knowledge constitution in ways positive and negative. The perspective that epistemic agents are instrumental agents in their own right includes affirmative and negative views. Numerous critical analyses emphasize the potential role of non-state actors generally, and epistemic communities specifically, as agents for reorienting security discourses in progressive ways. Inscriptions of epistemic agency in principally instrumental and/or abject terms are insensitive to the alternative readings because of their ultimate recourse to settlements that privilege either intellectuals-as-actors or states without enquiring into their agency. The highly limited agency which the state-centred argument affords Singapore's epistemic communities would give little credence to the aforementioned regional developments where promotion of a holistic, human-centred discourse in Singapore and the region is concerned.


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