Syllabus Ideas: The Politics of Violence in Southeast Asia

I am in the process of putting together a syllabus for a graduate-level half-semester course on the politics of violence in Southeast Asia. The goal of such a course would be to make sense of the micro-dynamics of conflict and violence—type of violence, its spatial distribution and incidence, its causes and consequences—but also to retain a macrostructural perspective as well, how war and conflict shape state development and vice versa.

Although I recognize that conflict and violence is a subset of the broader conceptual category of contentious politics, in the interest of keeping this short class manageable I am holding off on including important works on mobilization, protest, and “weapons of the weak.” (Although someday it would be nice to create such a dedicated Southeast Asia-focused course too.)

In building this syllabus, I recognize that my own knowledge is biased towards Indonesia. So, I’m hoping that readers might be able to identify some foundational texts that I have missed. I am especially interested in books, but good edited collections like Violence and the State in Suharto’s Indonesia could be useful too. It is generally easier for me to identify interesting and important journal articles, so that is not a major concern at this stage.

Here is my working list of books and monographs.

  • Edward Aspinall, Islam and Nation: Separatist Rebellion in Aceh, Indonesia
  • Jacques Bertrand, Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict in Indonesia
  • Mary Callahan, Making Enemies: War and State Building in Burma
  • Christopher Duncan, Violence and Vengeance: Religious Conflict and Its Aftermath in Eastern Indonesia
  • Benedict Kerkvliet, The Huk Rebellion: A Study of Peasant Revolt in the Philippines
  • Ben Kiernan, The Pol Pot Regime: Race, Power, and Genocide in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, 1975-79
  • Duncan McCargo, Tearing Apart the Land: Islam and Legitimacy in Southern Thailand
  • Geoffrey Robinson, The Dark Side of Paradise: Political Violence in Bali
  • James Scott, The Moral Economy of the Peasant: Rebellion and Subsistence in Southeast Asia
  • John Sidel, Riots, Pogroms, Jihad: Religious Violence in Indonesia
  • Richard Stubbs, Hearts and Minds in Guerrilla Warfare: The Malayan Emergency 1948-1960
  • Yuhki Tajima, The Institutional Origins of Communal Violence: Indonesia’s Transition from Authoritarian Rule

Amazingly, I have no entry yet on the Vietnam conflicts (Scott is something of an exception).

And in case this is not obvious, I am completely uninterested in the academic discipline of the author(s). If the subject is politics, or political, it counts.

Comments 2

  1. Noory Okthariza February 27, 2016

    For Vietnam, I’d suggest you to include Peter Zinoman’s the Colonial Bastille. He is a historian at Berkeley.

  2. Shawn McHale March 5, 2016

    Not sure how I got to this blog with the search terms I entered, but since I am here, shameless self-promotion, since I am interested in exactly this topic: Shawn McHale, “Understanding the Fanatic Mind? The Viet Minh and Race Hatred in the First Indochina War (1945-1954),” Journal of Vietnamese Studies (October 2009): 98-138; Shawn McHale, “Ethnicity, Violence, and Khmer-Vietnamese Violence: the Significance of the Lower Mekong Delta, 1757-1954.” Journal of Asian Studies Volume 72 / Issue 02 / May 2013, pp 367-390. Both engage political science arguments, but I am no political scientist . . .

Comments are closed.