Accepted paper:

From coexistence to violence: towards a typology of exchange processes in South Thailand


Alexander Horstmann

Paper short abstract:

In this paper, I want to highlight the transformation from coexistence to the emergence of hatred and violence in three communities in Southern Thailand. In all three communities, Buddhists and Muslims live side by side in neighbouring villages for hundred of years.

Paper long abstract:

In numerous communities of Southern Thailand, peaceful coexistence was transformed into hatred and violence in only a couple of years of even months. The outbreak of hostility and violence requires answers to the relation of Buddhists and Muslims in the respective localities and the factors of change. In this paper, I like to explain that the local cosmology and ritual system served as a encompassing value-idea in which Buddhism and Islam could be incorporated and localized. This value-idea enabled neighbourhood and exchanges between Buddhists and Muslims at different levels, most important marriage. However, the intrusion of the Thai state, the military and police and the emergence of Malay insurgent groups changed the hierarchical relationship between local and national/Global systems and brought exchange to a dead end. The state was involved in a systematic program of Thaiization in which it was impossible to be Melayu. The Buddhist sangha began to replace local institutions with centralized Sangha institutions. On the other hand, Dawa missionary movements established a new presence and visibility in the Muslim communities. Finally, young angry insurgents begin to kill Buddhists and Muslims who do not support their struggle. Competition of resources threatens the encompassing system of ancestor veneration, based on Buddhist-Muslim kinship systems. Comparing three case-studies, and distinguishing integration, mere coexistence and hostility, the paper examines the transformation from peace to violence and the willingness of villagers to defend social institutions inside the communities in the face of sweeping transformations from outside.

panel W053
Fragile transitions: from coexistence to the emergence of hatred, a comparative approach between Southeast Asia and South-East Europe