Changing conflict indentities : the case of the Southern Thailand discord
S. P. Harish
Date of Issue2006
S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
The current wave of violence in southern Thailand began on 4 January 2004 and is showing no signs of declining. The frequent attacks have become a thorn in the side of the Thaksin administration. Recent literature on the conflict as well as media reports tend to represent the insurgency in Thailand's restive south as Islamic in nature and portray attacks as revenge against the Buddhists. However, studies published in the 1970s and earlier do not represent the conflict in southern Thailand as such. Instead, they emphasise more on the ethnic Thai versus Malay character of the conflict. This paper attempts to explain the transformation of the southern Thailand conflict from a primarily ethnic discord to a predominantly religious strife. It argues that this change can be best explained by considering the role of identity in the conflict. The interplay and manipulation of the ethnic Malay and Thai identity on one hand, and the religious Islamic and Buddist identity on the other, are key factors that will assist in explaining the change in the character of the unrest.
DRNTU::Social sciences::Political science::Political institutions::Asia
RSIS Working Papers ; 107/06
Nanyang Technological University