Mapping National Anxieties

Thailand’s Southern Conflict

Duncan McCargo

  • Published: 2011
  • Pages: 240 pp., illustrated
ISBN Hardback: 978 87 7694 085 0, £50.00
ISBN Paperback: 978 87 7694 086 7, £16.99

Based on first-hand research inside the conflict zone, award-winning researcher Duncan McCargo uncovers previously hidden dimensions of this important regional insurgency, including the role of both Buddhism and Islam, and examines the debates around reconciliation, citizenship and identity, and the prospects for some form of autonomy for the Thai South.

This latest book by award-winning researcher Duncan McCargo, one of the world’s leading specialists on contemporary Thailand, builds on previous projects to elucidate new aspects of the intractable Southern conflict that has claimed more than 4500 lives since 2004.  Mapping National Anxieties locates the insurgency in the context of Thailand’s wider political conflicts, exploring the ambiguous relationships between the Thai state and organised religion, along with the recent resurgence of Buddhist chauvinism and nationalism. McCargo examines the way Islamic provincial councils have been drawn into the conflict, and scrutinises the special challenges the conflict has created for Thailand’s media. Journalists have struggled to communicate a confusing story to an increasingly indifferent wider public.

The book then moves beyond the crisis itself to look at ways forward, starting with the controversial National Reconciliation Commission that was established by the Thaksin Shinawatra government to propose peaceful options for reducing the violence. Another chapter explores how far Malay Muslims in Thailand’s southern border provinces think of themselves as ‘Thai’, arguing that there is an important distinction between legal citizenship and informal understandings of what citizenship means and entails. Finally, McCargo invites readers to ‘think the unthinkable’ by imagining the possibility of autonomy for Thailand’s deep South, and the implications for the country as a whole.
 

Duncan McCargo is Director of the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies and Professor of Political Science at the University of Copenhagen. A leading specialist on the politics of Thailand, his books include the best-selling Thaksinization of Thailand (co-authored), the award-winning Tearing Apart the Land: Islam and Legitimacy in Southern Thailand, and most recently Fighting for Virtue: Justice and Politics in Thailand.

Go to author page
author image not supplied

Duncan McCargo is best known for his agenda-setting contributions to current debates on the politics of Thailand.  Fluent in Thai and fascinated by Asia, he has spent several years in Thailand.  McCargo has also lived in Singapore, taught in Belfast, Cambodia and Japan, and published on Indonesia and Vietnam.  He is committed to doing serious fieldwork, and&nb

Duncan McCargo is best known for his agenda-setting contributions to current debates on the politics of Thailand.  Fluent in Thai and fascinated by Asia, he has spent several years in Thailand.  McCargo has also lived in Singapore, taught in Belfast, Cambodia and Japan, and published on Indonesia and Vietnam.  He is committed to doing serious fieldwork, and Time magazine wrote of his work ‘No armchairs for this author… McCargo is the real McCoy.’

McCargo’s main research interests lie in the politics of contemporary Thailand, including issues such as Buddhism, constitutionalism, political reform, the career of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, the media, the monarchy, the role of the military, the Southern conflict, judicialization and the politics of justice.  He also focuses on comparative politics in the Asia-Pacific region, including electoral politics, civil society, political transitions, and politics and media.

Duncan McCargo holds a visiting affiliation at Columbia’s University’s Weatherhead Institute, and is an Associate Fellow of the Asia Society. In December 2010, McCargo was awarded an honorary doctorate in Tai Studies by Mahasarakham University.

Go to author page

by Claudia Merli, Durham University
From journal:
ASEASUK News 54 (2013)

"This second book by McCargo to focus on the southern Thai conflict, shows deep analysis and reflection on the role of religion in the development and maintenance of longstanding violence at both regional and national levels. It complements McCargo’s other monograph devoted to the issue, Tearing apart the land (2008).

"This second book by McCargo to focus on the southern Thai conflict, shows deep analysis and reflection on the role of religion in the development and maintenance of longstanding violence at both regional and national levels. It complements McCargo’s other monograph devoted to the issue, Tearing apart the land (2008). One of the merits of the new volume is to magnify investigations to some extent previously presented in separate articles and conference keynote addresses, and therefore making available to the reader a revised and expanded analysis of McCargo’s broad exploration on these issues."

by Don Pathan
From journal:
The Nation, February 2013

"Mapping National Anxieties collects McCargo’s essays from over the years. It is one of those books best appreciated when read alongside another, in this case Tearing Apart the Land (2008).

The timing of the release couldn’t be better, because the current government, widely regarded as spineless, is actually thinking more in political terms.

"Mapping National Anxieties collects McCargo’s essays from over the years. It is one of those books best appreciated when read alongside another, in this case Tearing Apart the Land (2008).

The timing of the release couldn’t be better, because the current government, widely regarded as spineless, is actually thinking more in political terms.

Mapping National Anxieties is not about "slamming" Thailand, as some officials might perceive. It offers ways for our leaders to rethink the nation-sate construct.

…The next obvious step for Thailand’s leaders, it seems, is to come up with the courage to venture out of their comfort zone and explore other possibilities. Reading Mapping National Anxieties would be a good start."

by Prof. Joseph Chinyong Liow, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
From journal:
Contemporary Southeast Asia, Vol. 34, No. 3, December 2012

"Comprising in part of previously published papers and presentations, the topics drawn together in this book range from an assessment of how the military remained oblivious to the sensitivities of locals in the provinces despite its vast budget, to the inefficiencies of the National Reconciliation Council and how, as McCargo suggests, the "fractured nation" cannot simply be repai

"Comprising in part of previously published papers and presentations, the topics drawn together in this book range from an assessment of how the military remained oblivious to the sensitivities of locals in the provinces despite its vast budget, to the inefficiencies of the National Reconciliation Council and how, as McCargo suggests, the "fractured nation" cannot simply be repaired through "reconciliation".

… Notwithstanding the masterly treatment of the fundamental policy missteps that plague Bangkok’s attempts to resolve its problems in the south, it is, arguably, the book’s capable and effective discussion of historical, political and cultural undercurrents that impresses most.

[…] the insightful analysis and empirical detail contained in Mapping National Anxieties means that it still stands apart from other works.

… Together with Tearing Apart the Land, Mapping National Anxieties is absolutely essential reading for those who wish to have deeper knowledge of the woes of Thailand’s Malay minority in the southern provinces, the internal politics and fault lines within this community, and the problems that a resilient Malay identity pose for the Thai state and its national narrative."

by Dr Anthony Smith, Victoria University, Wellington
From journal:
New Zealand International Review, Vol. 37, Issue nr. 5, September 2012

"McCargo notes that any discussion of autonomy in Thailand is a major challenge to that country’s narrative of a homogenous country under the benevolent rule of a monarchy that saved Thailand from colonisation, and is immediately conflated in the Thai language with separatism (rendered in Thai as ‘tearing apart the land’; also the title of McCargo’s 2008 book publis

"McCargo notes that any discussion of autonomy in Thailand is a major challenge to that country’s narrative of a homogenous country under the benevolent rule of a monarchy that saved Thailand from colonisation, and is immediately conflated in the Thai language with separatism (rendered in Thai as ‘tearing apart the land’; also the title of McCargo’s 2008 book published by Cornell University, which is a highly recommended companion text to the one under review).

Mapping National Anxieties challenges a number of popular impressions of Thailand.

…McCargo’s extensive fieldwork in southern Thailand, and his astute reading of broader Thai politics, makes him required reading on this subject."

Ordering information

Close Menu
×
×

Cart