A buddha face engulfed by grey tree roots

Religion and Nationalism in Southeast Asia: conflict and contestation in the conception of nationhood

Monday 16th January 2017, 6.30 - 8.00pm; Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building
Speaker: Professor Joseph Liow; Chair: Dr Jürgen Haacke

Political contestations between the state and minority groups have long been a major feature of Southeast Asia. In recent years however, many of these contestations appear to be progressively taking on religious hues. Even among conflicts that had traditionally involved religious referents, such as in border provinces of Thailand or the Philippines, allegiances and imperatives of faith and creed have become sharper.

This lecture will attempt to cast light of the religious character of some of these conflicts. It argues that at the heart of many seemingly religious conflicts in Southeast Asia lies a clash of competing conceptions of nation and nationhood, identity and belonging, as well as loyalty and legitimacy. Religion enters the equation on grounds that religious identity nourishes collective consciousness of a people who see themselves as a nation, or perhaps even as a constituent part of a nation - nations without states - but sharing a common religious faith, and this serves as a vital element of identity and a means through which issues of rights (especially denizen rights) and legitimacy.

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Joseph Chinyong Liow is presently Dean and Professor of Comparative and International Politics at the S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. He is the author Religion and Nationalism in Southeast Asia. Joseph obtained his PhD in International Relations from the LSE in 2003.



Jürgen Haacke is Director of the Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre and Associate Professor of International Relations at LSE.