My research examines the core of international norm diffusion and domestication literature by juxtaposing postcolonial theory and norm diffusion, reflecting upon the relevance of international, often ‘Western’, norms and systems of influence in postcolonial societies. By providing an analysis that takes into account both theoretical and empirical aspects, this dissertation intends to contribute to a deeper understanding of international norms and their place in the international community and within domestic society.

This dissertation tackles the two following research questions:

  1. First, in what way are current international norm diffusion theories and models lacking, and what are the epistemic reasons for this? A thicker examination of the epistemological tenets behind current norm literature rooted in a confrontation of established norm diffusion literature with postcolonial theory would allow us to ask questions such as whether it is even possible to demarcate where colonial norms end and modern norms begin.
  2. Second, how can the empiric case study of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in the Philippines serve to enrich the existing models? Through process-tracing, how can an intimate examination of the practices occurring at the national and sub-national levels contribute to the practical challenges faced by the explanatory power of international norm diffusion and domestication theory? How can we then modify current norm diffusion and domestication models to account for power asymmetries; i.e. to allow them to be applied to postcolonial States such as the Philippines?

The case of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) in the Philippines is a particularly interesting study as it has been a debate that has been on-going for the past decades. The Philippines has a strong domestic movement for the promotion of SRHR in the form of the Reproductive Health Law and there exists strong international pressure both praising and shaming the country into action in the form of statements from the UN, WHO, EU, and so forth. All the variables required by international norm diffusion and domestication models towards the adoption of the SRHR norm have been ticket, which means that according to the literature, SRHR have been adopted and institutionalized by now. However, this is not the case.

My research looks at domestic agency and the points of resistance norms face within a country’s borders

This study is constructed using a multi-method approach: first, a critical discourse analysis of key documents from the Philippine Senate and House of Representatives regarding SRHR alongside the annual State of the Nation Address (SONA) of each president. The period under investigation is from the term of Corazon Aquino, which began in February 1986 after the overthrow of a twenty year dictatorship under Ferdinand Marcos, to the term of incumbent president Benigno Aquino III. This period from 1986 to 2015 has spanned five democratically-elected presidents and housed the 8th to the 16th Congress of the Philippines.

This will be followed by a case-study based process-tracing analysis of how these norms are spread and what elements are the greatest sources of resistance in relation to Sexual Health and Reproductive Rights. This in-depth study will focus on three selected cities: Manila, Cebu, and Davao.

At present my timeline of research is as follows:

  • May 2015 | Collect data: key documents, Congress debates
  • June- August 2015 | Fieldwork in the Philippines
  • September 2015 | Finalize data collection
  • October – December 2015 | Critical Discourse Analysis
  • January 2016 | Fieldwork in the Philippines
  • February – March 2016 | Process-Tracing
  • April – September 2016 | Dissertation Writing
  • October 2016 | DEADLINE

Are you interested in my research? Do you have recommended readings for me? Are you in the field of SRHR in Southeast Asia or the Philippines? Are you in a related field and are you willing to exchange ideas or be a resource person?

That sounds fantastic! Drop me a note via the form below, and I’ll get right back to you.

Submit a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s