Small States in a Changing World:
Globalization, Regionalism, Culture, and Identity


What is a small state?

  • No clear-cut definition of what constitutes a small state; definitions vary considerably
  • Qualitative definitions encompass the intrinsic physical/geographical characteristics of small states, degree of insularity, vulnerability, etc.
  • Quantitative definitions include land area, population size, gross national product, per capita income .
  • The number of small countries has been steadily increasing.
  • In 1998, 87 countries had populations of less than five million; 58 had less than 2.5 million; 35 had less than 500,000.
  • Commonwealth definition classifies small states as those with 2.5 million people or less.

What are the types of small states?

  • Successful small states
  • Developing small states
  • Vulnerable small states

Where are they located?

  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Caribbean
  • Central America
  • Southeast and Central Europe
  • European Union
  • Indian ocean
  • Mediterranean
  • Middle East
  • South Pacific

Why has the subject of small states emerged now?

  • End of cold war spawned new relationships, new strategies, new national political identities
  • Globalization has placed mounting pressures on the ability of small states to manage their trade, economic and political relationships
  • Analysts of IR interested in examining different perspectives, focusing on the roles of women, moving beyond the vantage of superpowers and regional hegemons
  • International trade liberalization reducing the need for large domestic markets

Are certain political problems particular to small states?

  • Historical "lessons" of small states in the 20th century, e.g. the Benelux countries, Scandinavia, Switzerland, Singapore
  • Domination by a superpower or aggressive neighbor
  • Fragmentation and instability, e.g. the Balkans, former Soviet Union

What are some of the political strategies used by small states?

  • Small-small and small-large alliances
  • Regional alliances
  • Multilateral alliances
  • Neutrality
  • Security arrangements for small states
  • Bottom-up globalization, e.g. the Hague Agenda for Peace and Justice

What are some of the economic, investment, and trade issues facing small states?

  • Debates about a minimum "right size" for national economic survival and growth
  • Linked international financial markets increasing states' vulnerabilities and openness to external economic shocks
  • EU's African, Caribbean, and Pacific trade preferences being challenged in the World Trade Organization

Can small states make themselves competitive internationally by being on the cutting edge of new fields?

  • Genetic medical research, e.g. Iceland
  • Telecommunications and information technology, e.g. Finland and Singapore
  • How smaller economies make the transition from commodity-producing roles to service-selling roles

What situations pose special risks to small states?

  • The challenge of sustainable development
  • Large market fluctuation and currency crises
  • Humanitarian disasters

what kinds of solutions are being discussed to address investment and risks to small states?

  • Regional stock exchanges as a strategy for attracting investment
  • Capital pools and property insurance

What are the issues surrounding culture, ethnicity, and identity construction in small states?

  • Preserving identity within larger unions, e.g. the European Union, Economic community of West African States, Association of South East Asian Nations
  • Intercultural vs. regional identity
  • The effects of "creolization" on the national social and political context
  • The impact of artistic movements and aesthetic values on the state
  • International sports as a leveler for small states

What are the relevant themes an trends of literary and artistic movements?

  • Cosmopolitanism in small states
  • Multiculturalism vs. pluralism
  • Should artistic examination start with the "margins" in order to analyze the level of alienation, or should it begin with the dominant culture and look outward?

How do small states' film industries contribute to the creation of the "nation"?

  • Globalization and linguistic autonomy
  • Filmmakers' images that inform and are informed by the notion of nationhood

What are the types of diplomacy used most effectively by small states?

  • Quiet diplomacy vs. protest diplomacy
  • Group diplomacy vs. niche diplomacy
  • Diasporic diplomacy vs. multicultural diplomacy
  • Enterprise diplomacy vs. regulatory diplomacy
  • Summit diplomacy vs. cyber diplomacy
  • UN conference on the sustainable development of small island states

How--if at all--can citizens of small states affect global governance?

  • Links between local and global governance institutions
  • Transnational civil society