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Hegemonic Distortions: The Securitisation of the Insurgency in Thailand's Deep South

  • Nicole Jenne (a1) and Jun Yan Chang (a2)

The conflict between the Thai state and the Malay-Muslim insurgency in the country's Deep South is one of Southeast Asia's most persistent internal security challenges. The start of the current period of violence dates back to the early 2000s, and since then, a significant number of studies exploring the renewed escalation have been published. In this study, we argue that existing scholarship has not adequately accounted for the external environment in which political decisions were taken on how to deal with the southern insurgency. We seek to show how the internationally dominant, hegemonic security agenda of so-called non-traditional security (NTS) influenced the Thai government's approach to the conflict. Building upon the Copenhagen School's securitisation theory, we show how the insurgency became securitised under the dominant NTS narrative, leading to the adoption of harsh measures and alienating discourses that triggered the escalation of violence that continues today. The specific NTS frameworks that ‘distorted’ the Thai state's approach of one that had been informed solely by local facts and conditions were those of anti-narcotics and Islamist terrorism, albeit in different ways. Based on the findings from the case study, the article concludes with a reflection on the role of the hegemonic NTS agenda and its implications for Southeast Asian politics and scholarship.

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