ISBN: 9788776940867

Mapping National Anxieties: Thailand's Southern Conflict


Duncan McCargo

2011. 224 pp. (xi+213)
1 map, 6 figures, 8 photographs
paperback, 15x23 cm
For sale in Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam only

This latest book by award-winning researcher Duncan McCargo, one of the world’s leading specialists on contemporary Thailand, builds on previous projects to elucidate new aspects of the intractable Southern conflict that has claimed more than 4,500 lives since 2004. Mapping National Anxieties locates the insurgency in the context of Thailand’s wider political conflicts, exploring the ambiguous relationships between the Thai state and organised religion, along with the recent resurgence of Buddhist chauvinism and nationalism. McCargo examines the way Islamic provincial councils have been drawn into the conflict, and scrutinises the special challenges the conflict has created for Thailand’s media. Journalists have struggled to communicate a confusing story to an increasingly indifferent wider public.

The book then moves beyond the crisis itself to look at ways forward, starting with the controversial National Reconciliation Commission that was established by the Thaksin Shinawatra government to propose peaceful options for reducing the violence. Another chapter explores how far Malay Muslims in Thailand’s southern border provinces think of themselves as “Thai”, arguing that there is an important distinction between legal citizenship and informal understandings of what citizenship means and entails. Finally, McCargo invites readers to “think the unthinkable” by imagining the possibility of autonomy for Thailand‘s deep South, and the implications for the country as a whole.

About the author

Duncan McCargo, professor of Southeast Asian politics at the University of Leeds, is best known for his fieldwork-based studies of Thailand’s political complexities. His Tearing Apart the Land: Islam and Legitimacy in Southern Thailand (Cornell 2008) won the inaugural 2009 Bernard Schwartz Book Prize from the Asia Society of New York. And his bestselling Thaksinization of Thailand (NIAS 2006) was a critical success, described by Kevin Hewison in the Bangkok Post as “a fascinating and detailed account of new patterns of wealth and power that amount to a “Thaksinisation” of Thailand’s political and economic rode”.


  • Based on first-hand research in the world‘s third most intensive conflict zone after Iraq and Afghanistan
  • Uncovers previously hidden dimensions of this important regional insurgency, including the role of both Buddhism and Islam
  • Examines the debates around reconciliation, citizenship and identity, and the prospects for some form of autonomy for the Thai South


    Islam | Buddhism | Conflict Studies | Politics | History | Thailand