The Muslim Malay Community in Southern Thailand: A ‘Small People’ Facing Existential Uncertainty
Ritsumeikan Journal of Asia Pacific Studies, Vol. 27, pp. 53-63, February 2010
13 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2010
Date Written: February 13, 2010
This article aims to apply Abulof's concept of "small peoples" to the case of the Muslim Malay Community in Southern Thailand. Existential uncertainty as an intersubjective reality is the defining characteristic of a "small people." Moreover, the article explores how the Muslim Malay community in the South of Thailand is facing ethnonational existential threats due to the assimilationist policies of the central government. The Patani-Malay language and the Islamic religion are threatened by policies favoring a homogenous national culture based on a unitary nation-state held together by the three pillars of nation, monarchy, and religion. Finally, the article concludes that one of the root causes of the Southern insurgency is the perceived slow death of the Patani-Malay ethnonationality by a significant number of traditional leaders and youths. Some "soft" approaches to deal with the intersubjective reality of existential uncertainty experienced by the Muslim Malay minority are also provided as tentative recommendations.
Keywords: deep South of Thailand, development, ethnic conflict, Islam in Southeast Asia, Muslim Malays
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