Amitav Acharya (born 1962) is an Indian-born Canadian scholar and author, who is Distinguished Professor of International Relations at American University, Washington, D.C., where he holds the UNESCO Chair in Transnational Challenges and Governance at the School of International Service, and serves as the chair of the ASEAN Studies Initiative. Acharya has expertise in and has made contributions to a wide range of topics in International Relations, including constructivism, ASEAN and Asian regionalism, and Global International Relations. He became the first non-Western President of the International Studies Association when he was elected to the post for 2014–15.
Acharya was born in Jagatsinghpur, Orissa (now Odisha), India. After completing a BA in Political Science at Ravenshaw University and an MA in Political Science at Jawaharlal Nehru University in India, he obtained his doctorate from Murdoch University in Australia in 1987. After brief teaching and research stints in Singapore at the Institute for Southeast Studies (now ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute) and the National University of Singapore, he joined the faculty of York University, Toronto in 1993. He was a Fellow at Harvard University‘s newly established Asia Center in 2000–2001, while concurrently being a Fellow of the Center for Business and Government at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. From 2001 and 2007, he served as Deputy Director and Head of Research at the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies (which in 2007 became the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies), at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. In 2007, he was appointed Chair of Global Governance and Director of the Centre for Governance and International Affairs at the University of Bristol. In 2009, he moved to his present position at American University.
Acharya has held various visiting positions throughout his career, including as the ASEM Chair in Regional Integration at the University of Malaya, the Direk Jayanama Visiting Professor of Political Science at Thammasat University, Visiting Professorial Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, Visiting Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Economics at Chulalongkorn University. He has also held visiting positions at Australian National University, Stanford University, Sydney University, United Nations University Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies, Vietnam National University, Central European University, and Ritsumeikan University. He was elected to a Christensen Fellowship at St Catherine’s College, University of Oxford in 2012. In 2012–13, he was appointed to the Nelson Mandela Visiting Professorship in International Relations at Rhodes University, South Africa. In 2016, he was appointed to be the Inaugural Boeing Company Chair in International Relations in the Schwarzman Scholars Program at Tsinghua University.
In 2016, Acharya was awarded the prestigious Odisha Living Legend Award from the Odisha Diary Foundation in his native state of Odisha and delivered the Living Legend Oration at Bhubaneswar. He has received two Distinguished Scholar awards from the International Studies Association: one from the Global South Caucus in 2016, and another from the International Organization section in 2018.
Acharya was elected President of the International Studies Association (ISA) for 2014–15. He was the first Indian, Asian, and non-Western scholar to be elected as ISA President. He was a Vice-President of the ISA in 2008–09. He is one of the founders of the Asian Political and International Studies Association (APISA), and served as its inaugural co-president in 2003–04.
He is the joint chief editor of the Studies in Asian Security series for Stanford University Press.
Acharya’s work has been influential in shaping policy on Asian regionalism and human security. His 2001 book, Constructing a Security Community in Southeast Asia, was the primary basis of the initial Indonesian concept paper which ultimately resulted in the establishment of the ASEAN Political-Security Community. His work on human security led to him being invited to address the UN General Assembly on the subject of human security on 14 April 2011.
He has been interviewed as an international affairs expert by CNN International, BBC, BBC World Service Radio, CNBC, Channel NewsAsia, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Radio Australia, National Public Radio (NPR), RT, and Al Jazeera.
Acharya regularly writes op-eds for international newspapers and magazines including The Financial Times, the International Herald Tribune, The New York Times, National Public Radio (NPR) online, The Huffington Post, The Australian Financial Review, Asia Times, The Times of India, The Indian Express, The Straits Times, The Jakarta Post, the Bangkok Post, Asiaweek, the Far Eastern Economic Review, The Japan Times, the South China Morning Post, YaleGlobal Online covering such topics as international and Asian security, regional integration, the war on terror, and the rise of China and India.
Acharya is the author of:
- S. Military Strategy in the Gulf: Origins and Evolution under the Carter and Reagan Administrations, Routledge, 1989
- The Quest for Identity: International Relations of Southeast Asia, Oxford University Press, 2000
- Singapore’s Foreign Policy: The Search for Regional Order, World Scientific, 2007
- Whose Ideas Matter? Agency and Power in Asian Regionalism, Cornell University Press, 2009
- Civilizations in Embrace: The Spread of Ideas and the Transformation of Power, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2012
- The Making of Southeast Asia: International Relations of a Region, Cornell University Press, 2012
- Rethinking Power, Institutions and Ideas in World Politics: Whose IR?, Routledge, 2013
- Constructing a Security Community in Southeast Asia: ASEAN and the Problem of Regional Order, Routledge, 2001, 2009, 2014
- Indonesia Matters: Asia’s Emerging Democratic Power, World Scientific, 2014
- East of India, South of China: Sino-Indian Encounters in Southeast Asia, Oxford University Press, 2017
- The End of American World Order, Polity, 2014, 2018
- Constructing Global Order: Agency and Change in World Politics, Cambridge University Press, 2018
He has also co-authored or edited:
- New Challenges for ASEAN: Emerging Policy Issues, with Richard Stubbs, UBC Press, 1995
- Asia-Pacific Security Cooperation: National Interests and Regional Order, with See Seng Tan, Routledge, 2004
- UN Peace Operations and Asian Security, with Mely Caballero-Anthony, Routledge, 2005
- Non-Traditional Security in Asia: The Dynamics of Securitization, with Mely Caballero-Anthony and Ralf Emmers, Ashgate, 2006
- Reassessing Security Cooperation in Asia-Pacific, with Evelyn Goh, MIT Press, 2007
- Crafting Cooperation: Regional International Institutions in Comparative Perspective, with Alastair Iain Johnston, Cambridge University Press, 2007
- Theorizing Southeast Asian Relations: Emerging Debates, with Richard Stubbs, Routledge, 2008
- Bandung Revisited: The Legacy of the Asian-African Conference for International Order, with See Seng Tan, National University of Singapore Press, 2008
- Living with China: Regional States and China through Crises and Turning Points, with Shiping Tang and Li Mingjiang, Palgrave Macmillan, 2009
- Non-Western International Relations Theory: Reflections on and Beyond Asia, with Barry Buzan, Routledge, 2010
- Why Govern? Rethinking Demand and Progress in Global Governance, Cambridge University Press, 2016
- Africa in Global International Relations: Emerging Approaches to Theory and Practice, with Paul-Henri Bischoff and Kwesi Aning, Routledge, 2016
- The Making of Global International Relations: Origins and Evolution of IR at Its Centenary, with Barry Buzan, Cambridge University Press, 2019
Acharya has also published several articles in a wide range of International Relations journals. Some of his widely cited articles include:
- Ideas, Identity, and Institution-Building: From the ‘ASEAN Way’ to the ‘Asia-Pacific Way’?, The Pacific Review, 10, no. 3 (1997)
- Human Security: East versus West, International Journal, 56, no. 3 (2001)
- Will Asia’s Past Be Its Future?, International Security, 28, no. 3 (2003/04)
- How Ideas Spread: Whose Norms Matter? Norm Localization and Institutional Change in Asian Regionalism, International Organization, 58, no. 2 (2004)
- The Emerging Regional Architecture of World Politics, World Politics, 59, no. 4 (2007)
- Norm Subsidiarity and Regional Orders: Sovereignty, Regionalism, and Rule-Making in the Third World, International Studies Quarterly, 55, no. 1 (2011)
- Global International Relations (IR) and Regional Worlds: A New Agenda for International Studies, International Studies Quarterly, 58, no. 4 (2014)