Islamic Nationalism: The Armed Resistance of Malay Muslims in Southern Thailand

Islamic Nationalism

My study investigates the contemporary separatist movements’ ideological transformations in southern Thailand since the 1980s. The year 2004 marked a dramatic surge of violence in Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and some parts of Songkhla provinces. While the post-2004 period cannot be separated from the long-standing secessionist movements, there is evidence that Islam has become a more prominent characteristic of the contemporary separatists than it had been. However, major scholarly works on the post-2004 phenomenon tend to either overlook or misplace the role of religion. While some scholars view religion as having a secondary role in what is perceived to be primarily an ethno-nationalist struggle, the terrorism experts, by contrast, raise an alarmist tone and point out Islam’s possible links to transnational jihadist groups.  Both analyses fail to provide a thorough understanding of the role of Islam in the current secessionist movements in southern Thailand. I hypothesise that ethno-nationalism and Islamism have fused and, in effect, re-shaped the ideologies, strategies, discourses and end-goals of these secessionist movements. The global Islamic revival and Islamism have provided a significant backdrop for this transformation.

About the Speaker

Rungrawee Chalermsripinyorat commenced her PhD in the Department of Political and Social Change in 2015.  She has worked as an analyst for International Crisis Group focussing on the southern insurgency and national politics in Thailand. Prior to that, she worked as a journalist with The Nation and Associated Press.  Rungrawee has a BA in Journalism from Bangkok’s Thammasat University; an MA in Southeast Asian Studies from National University of Singapore and an MA in Conflict Resolution in Divided Societies from King’s College London. She has published widely on the southern conflict in Thailand in both Thai and English.

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