Concept and Theory of Identity Politics and the Representation of Melayu Muslims in the Deep South of Thailand


Yasmin Sattar

The Faculty of Political Science, Prince of Songkla University, Pattani Campus, Pattani 94000, Thailand

Imron Sahoh

Center for Conflict Studies and Cultural Diversity (CSCD) Institute for Peace Studies, Prince of Songkla University, Pattani Campus, Pattani 94000, Thailand


The qualitative research titled “Dynamics of Melayu Muslim Politicians’ Movements amidst the Violence in the Southern Border Provinces” has applied the concept of identity politics to attempt to discover the connections between identity politics, representatives, and Melayu Muslims in the movement of Melayu-Muslim politicians in the Deep South of Thailand. This article is part of the research paper that brought up the idea of identity politics in connection with the movements in the Deep South. It argued that the access to the power structure of identity representation is one of the approaches to aid in the preservation of an individual’s own identity. The research argues that if the identities are respected equally, it is likely that the motivation to ignite oppressive violence could be reduced. On the one hand, identity politics may further lead to the construction of “others” versus “us”. On the other hand, it could lead to the reduction of violent conditions if identity is protected in the political space.  In relation to Muslim identity, the concepts of ‘political Islam’, ‘post-Islamism’ or ‘post-secularism’ have been brought up to explain the visibility of Muslim identity in the political domain. The Melayu Muslims in the Deep South of Thailand have a unique identity and one of the main causes of the ongoing conflict in the area is the historical invisibility and suppression of their identity. The solution to the conflict of identity politics and marginalization is to revive and create legitimate power of the people living there by supporting conflict management authority at local, national and international levels. Therefore, it could be stated that the parliamentary system is the hope that people can attempt to build political bargaining space to promote the full representation of Muslim or Melayu identity which will, eventually, reduce the conditions leading to violence.

Keywords: Identity politics, Melayu, Muslim, Politicians, Deep South


References : Walailak Journal of Social Science, 14(2), Article 244002