Religious undercurrents have significantly shaped the ongoing insurgency in Thailand’s majority Muslim southern provinces. Yet scholars have largely failed to ask how the Thai military mobilizes gender and religion for counterinsurgency purposes. Drawing on gender-theoretical approaches, this talk presents a political ethnography of one of the most popular counterinsurgency projects in southern Thailand, and challenges simplistic assessments of military Buddhist nationalism. The so-called ‘New Path’ camp encompasses a one-week training for young Muslim men from the southern provinces that explicitly deploys Muslim religious practices to cultivate disciplined masculinities, and fosters cooperation with local religious elites. In contrast to Cold War conversion projects, I argue, the ‘New Path’ camp aims at cultivating ‘good Muslim’ masculinities loyal to the Thai-Buddhist nation-state, echoing cultivation practices used in colonial pedagogy. These cultivation practices have powerful political effects in relation to the ongoing insurgency in southern Thailand, and more broadly complicate the overarching question of religion and statehood in Thailand.
Ruth Streicher, of the University of California, Berkeley, will present “The ‘New Path’ to Peace: Cultivating ‘Good Muslim’ Masculinities in Southern Thai Counterinsurgency” on Tuesday, April 7th. Moderated by Saskia Schäfer, Postdoctoral Fellow in Modern Southeast Asian Studies at the Weatherhead East Asian Institute.
Sponsored by the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life. Co-sponsored by the Weatherhead East Asian Institute; the SIPA Gender Policy Working Group; and the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality.
This event is free and open to all. Registration is not required.