From colonialist to infidel : framing the enemy in Southern Thailand's 'cosmic war'

Andre, Virginie 2013, From colonialist to infidel : framing the enemy in Southern Thailand's 'cosmic war'. In Camilleri, Joseph and Schottmann, Sven (ed), Culture, religion and conflict in Muslim Southeast Asia : negotiating tense pluralisms, Routledge, London, England, pp.109-125.

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Title From colonialist to infidel : framing the enemy in Southern Thailand's 'cosmic war'
Author(s) Andre, Virginie
Title of book Culture, religion and conflict in Muslim Southeast Asia : negotiating tense pluralisms
Editor(s) Camilleri, Joseph
Schottmann, Sven
Publication date 2013
Chapter number 7
Total chapters 11
Start page 109
End page 125
Total pages 17
Publisher Routledge
Place of Publication London, England
Summary In the 1970s secessionists in Southern Thailand described the Thai state as "colonialist" constituted by "Siamese fascist officials"1 who had "illegally colonised Patani". The flavour of this discourse shows the importance of historical context in shaping the way resistance movements interpret their own struggles. In the case of the resistances groups in Southern Thailand, it reflects the influence of the wider international anti-colonial movement and its embrace of nationalism and socialism. Translating these concepts into a political agenda was complicated by the centrality of Islam in defining the grievances of the Patani Muslims. Islam was the reason they were considered marginal by wider Buddhist society and hence it was Islam that become a core identity marker and the fulcrum upon which the resistance movement grew. Merging the predominately secular themes of anti-colonialism with Islam was complex, and as a result for much of its existence the insurgency failed to define clearly an ideology beyond the general maxim of 'liberating the homeland' to create the Republic of Patani. By the onset of the twenty first century situation had changed and although the goal remained the same for many Thai Muslims it was based on firmer ontological ground. By defining itself in Islamist terms, the separatist movement managed to distance itself from the secular concepts that defined the Thai state ('nationalism') and which precluded support for its struggle from other states ('sovereignty'). The objective now is the creation of Al Fatoni Darussalam (Islamic Land of Patani) by "purging all Siamese infidels out of our territory to purify our religion and culture"2 (HRW, 2007: 45). In short, the shift in terminology indicates an ideological shift in the way the insurgents frame the conflict but also, more importantly, in their identification of the 'enemy'. 3 The 'liberation of the Republic' has now evolved into a 'struggle to liberate an Islamic Land'. From being a 'colonialist' and 'fascist' state, the Thai state has assumed the status of 'infidel'. The insurgents' embrace of Islamism as the organising principle of their resistance is progressively transforming the conflict into what Juergensmeyer has called a 'Cosmic War' (Juergensmeyer, 2003). This paper will further explore this ideological shift by analysing for the first time primary sources such as propaganda leaflets, interviews and insurgent interrogation reports that were collected during recent fieldwork in Southern Thailand between 2006 and 2008.
ISBN 0415625262
Language eng
Field of Research 169999 Studies in Human Society not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society
HERDC Research category B1.1 Book chapter
Copyright notice ©2013, Taylor & Francis
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