Negotiating multiple identities: Becoming and un-becoming "Thai" Muslims
In 2004, three violent incidents took place in the deep South of Thailand: the stealing of weapons from the army, the massacre at Krue Se mosque, and the massacre at Tak Bai. Since then, derogatory and criminalizing labels such as “Southern bandit” and “separatist” have been used not only by mainstream media, but also by lay people in daily conversations, sometimes in the form of casual remarks. These labels connote negative stereotypes that result in various forms of violence, including verbal violence against Malay-Thai Muslims from the deep South and protests against the construction of mosques in certain areas of Northeastern Thailand. Among the rhetoric that accompanied anti-Muslim sentiments in Thailand are a restricted interpretation of the three pillars of Thainess: Nation, Religion, and Monarchy, which defines “religion” to be exclusive to Buddhism and push Malay Muslims in the position of “the other.” Compounded by the selective truth-telling of mainstream media, these Malay Muslims were further made to be seen as “the fearsome other.” Prior to today’s anti-Muslim sentiments, however, there had been ongoing state attempts to define Malay Muslims in the deep South as “Thai Muslims” by emphasizing Muslims and Buddhists’ shared loyalty towards King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Through examining mainstream news about the Southern Thai conflict in 2004 and the Ministry of Culture’s 2006 documentary about King Bhumibol’s first visit to Southern Thailand, this thesis illustrates the shifting temporal spaces that have highlighted different identities of Malay-Thai Muslims in the deep South of Thailand. Furthermore, this thesis investigates instances of conflict and reconciliation that arose during Malay-Thai Muslims’ negotiation of their multiple identities and subjectivities within the non-linear and often conflicting state-endorsed discourses. I search for signs of agency as well as its absence.
Islamophobia; Mainstream media; Malay Thai Muslims; Multiple identities; Southern Thai conflict; Thai nationalism
Formichi, ChiaraFuhrmann, Arnika
M.A., Asian Studies
Master of Arts
dissertation or thesis