Political Violence in South and Southeast Asia

Critical Perspectives

image of Political Violence in South and Southeast Asia
This volume explores the sources and manifestations of political violence in South and Southeast Asia and the myriad roles that it plays in everyday life. It considers and critiques the manner in which political violence is understood and constructed, and the common assumptions that prevail regarding the causes, victims and perpetrators of this violence. By focusing on the social and political context of these regions the volume presents a critical understanding of the nature of political violence and provides an alternative narrative to that found in mainstream analysis of ‘terrorism’. Political Violence in South and Southeast Asia brings together political scientists and anthropologists with intimate knowledge of the politics and society of these regions, from different academic backgrounds, who present unique perspectives on topics including assassinations, riots, state violence, the significance of borders, external influences and intervention, and rebellion.



Recruitment and attack in Southeast Asian collective violence

In the politics that has followed 9/11, as during the Cold War, it has become common to connect sets of claims or orientations with forms and tactics of struggle. Religious fundamentalism in particular has often been presented as explaining cataclysmic, suicidal approaches to struggle by virtue of its sustaining beliefs. Yet the approach fails to account for the differences in forms of struggle among movements that seem inspired by similar ways of thinking or to incorporate some of the most interesting insights on the relationship between tactics of struggle and larger political processes. The trade-offs in the choice between these alternatives should be clear. If patterns of violence depend primarily on ways of framing struggle, then the analysis should concentrate on those frameworks, and interpret their tractable connections to different kinds of struggle. If, on the other hand, dynamics of struggle are embedded in broader political processes, we should concentrate on process, including the nature of repression, opportunities for advocacy within the polity, the character of social connection in society, the availability of potential allies or countermovements and the cultural frameworks available for struggle. I adopt this latter approach in this chapter.


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