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Fighting Armed Conflicts in Southeast Asia

Ethnicity and Difference

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 September 2020

Shane Joshua Barter
Soka University of America


This Element seeks to make sense of Southeast Asia's numerous armed conflicts. It makes four contributions. First, this study provides a typology, distinguishing between revolutionary, secessionist, and communal conflicts. The first two are types of insurgencies, while the latter are ethnic conflicts. Second, this study emphasizes the importance of ethnicity in shaping conflict dynamics. This is true even for revolutionary conflicts, which at first glance may appear unrelated to ethnicity. A third contribution relates to broad conflict trends. Revolutionary and secessionist conflicts feature broad historical arcs, with clear peaks and declines, while communal conflicts occur more sporadically. The fourth contribution ties these points together by focusing on conflict management. Just as ethnicity shapes conflicts, ethnic leaders and traditions can also promote peace. Cultural mechanisms are especially important for managing communal conflicts, the lone type not declining in Southeast Asia.
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Online ISBN: 9781108686891
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication: 08 October 2020
© Shane Joshua Barter 2020

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