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Bridging Diversity: Inclusion – Exclusion as a Means of Social Interaction in Southeast Asia

Organiser:
Mirjam Le
University of Passau
mirifriedl@aol.com

Chair:
Mirjam Le
University of Passau
mirifriedl@aol.com

Discussant:
Mirjam Le
University of Passau
mirifriedl@aol.com

 
Questions on social and environmental welfare are currently raised all over Southeast Asia. As different as these questions and their answers might look in each country, they all touch in their core at the idea of a better, decent living in the future. They include a diversity of discourses, among others:
• Ecology: environmental problems, climate change and future protection from natural disasters like in the coastal areas of Vietnam,
• Economy: corruption, income inequality and crony economy like in the Philippines
• State: minority rights, grassroots participation and the future of the political system like in Thailand, and
• Society: discourses on religious tolerance and integration like in Indonesia, as well as the idea of a sustainable urban environment in all countries.
As different social groups and states are negotiating their different visions of the future, some actors and discourses are integrated whereas others are excludes. By looking at different countries and different topic, the aim of this panel is to identify these common processes of negotiation, of inclusion and exclusion, beyond a specific topic. The aim is to understand how people in different contexts negotiate their future. This includes ideas on capabilities, power relations, social creativity, empowerment and access to resources. The question is therefore not what is negotiated but who is negotiating and by what means?
The panel looks at the underlying process of inclusion and exclusion of actors, ideas and resources. It aims at understanding this process of negotiation to gain a new perspective on social interaction in Southeast Asia.

 

Paper 1: Civil society organizations and peacebuilding in Southern Thailand: Working amid Inclusion-Exclusion Dichotomy

Thammasat Sotthibandhu
University of Passau
porsotthi@hotmail.com

This paper aims to explore civil society organizations’ experiences in relation to the inclusion-exclusion dichotomy and human (in)security in the case study of Southern Thailand’s peacebuilding.
In most literatures, civil society in general is often seen as one core actor to achieve positive peace, which is more than the absence of war; but it also involves social, economic and environmental conditions conducive to human welfare for all people. However, civil society is a complex and contested sphere.
The upsurge of violence in 2004 stimulated the establishment of more civil society organizations in Southern Thailand, either rooted from the area or supported from outside. There are approximately 284 organizations. Some focus on security- and development-related programs, promoting dialogue and other multi-ethnic activities at different levels, and some focused more on activities that respond to the violence including rehabilitation, charity, and human rights protection. However, working without proper coordination in the context of this protracted asymmetrical conflict, several networks of banded CSOs create process of inclusion and exclusion; some works become overlapping and then encourage a competition to resources and target beneficiaries. Consequently, it is unlikely that some CSOs can significantly go in the direction of peace, and further that they may seek to exploit the benefits they gain from it at the expense of the human security of others.

 
Paper 2: Facebook as a weapon of the weak?: A case study of Thai protestors on EHIA Project of Mae Wong Dam, Thailand

Wimonsiri Hemtanon
Mahidol University
fraujum@gmail.com

Since 2010, Facebook emerged as a crucial online public sphere for information and communication among Thai middle class in a situation of political uncertainty. Not only used a hub as self-broadcast of news and information, but also became a vehicle for the casual commentator to air public opinions and also being used as a tool to channel support for various campaigns in real world activities.
The 388 kilometers marching within 13 days from Mae Wong Dam in Nakhornsawan province to Bangkok was initiated as a non-violent activity to express the opposition towards the Environmental Health Impact Assessment (EHIA) report produced by The Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning. Along the way since the marching had started by the only one prominent activist and few people in his team, Facebook had been applied as a tool to communicate with urban audiences and successfully ended up with thousands of supporters from all walks of life.
This article will explore how Facebook users, as stakeholders and actors of the societal movement, use facebook as a communication tool to negotiate with the State by reproducing discourses in order to maintain and enhance their natural resources conservation power by applying concepts of actor network theory and the concept of capital by Bourdieu.

 
Paper 3: Climate Change in the Philippines: Paradoxical Relationship among Ecology, Grassroots Society and Political Administration

Luzile Satur
University of Passau
luzilesatur@gmail.com

Following the concepts of environmental legitimation crisis (Habermas, 1973/1992; Marshall & Goldstein, 2006) and environmental justice (Schroeder et al., 2008; Middleton, 2012), this study deals with socio-ecological conflicts resulting from climate change, erroneous norm, environmental degradation, and inefficient implementation of socialised housing policies for the urban poor in the Southeast Asian City of Cagayan de Oro, Northern Mindanao, Philippines. The city governmentenacted the Piso-Piso Program to provide dwellings for the landless and homeless populace. Consequently, housing projects were built and occupied in areas deemed not suitable for settlement. When typhoon Washi (local name: Sendong) hit the city in December 2011, the main victims were mostly from these places. Social housing welfare is evidently deficient; however, the city government allowed marginalised residents to settle in disaster prone areas. In spite of that, there was no resistance coming from the urban poor. The resistance only occurred after the effects of the typhoon were encountered. This paper analyses the tolerance of the city government and nonresistance of the urban poor preceding the disaster. Further, it examines the policies of the government and its reaction to the demands of the urban poor following the disaster. It argues that environmental crisis can be avoided through environmental justice. Methodology consists of data from government, international groups, local and national media. Scope of analysis includes the policies, city mayor, association of the urban poor, environmental and civil society movements.

 

 

Paper 4: Coming to terms with the Ahmadis? The Role of Local Administrators in the Process of Social Inclusion and Exclusion

Dina Diana
University of Passau
deegus03@yahoo.com

One example of the ongoing issue concerning the problem of social inclusion and exclusion in
Indonesia is the rights of the Ahmadiyah Community, a minority Islamic sect. The presence of
the Ahmadiyah community in a certain locality will most likely encounter sharp opposition from the local people. Accordingly, it is not uncommon that they are fully excluded from the social interaction. One particularly important actor for the analysis of the process of inclusion and exclusion in this case is the state actor, the local administrators. Hence, it is necessary to
critically examine the role of the local administrators in dealing with the conflict between the
social groups and how they frame the social practices of inclusion and exclusion on the ground. By focusing on the negotiation process between the local administrators and the conflicting social groups, it shall be shown that instead of solving the conflict, the local administrator becomes a manifestation of a social group of its own which has the power to include and exclude people. It further examines that not only do these social groups fight to achieve religious control, but, most importantly, they also want to control social interaction. The aim of the proposed paper is to analyse the struggle between different social groups in defining social control and interaction, what strategies and resources the use, how the process of negotiations conducted by the actors, particularly by the state actor, and how the process of inclusion and exclusion could
lead to violence.