Finding a juncture between peace and conflict studies and terrorism studies : the case of the Mindanao conflict
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This thesis is a critique on contemporary counterterrorism and peacebuilding. It uses a single case study approach to answer the question: How can we, by studying the Mindanao conflict - which has characteristics of both ‘new wars’ and ‘new terrorism’ - find a juncture between peace and conflict studies and terrorism studies that could help us to better understand terrorism and thereby create more efficient frameworks and tools for countering terrorism, and addressing the root causes of intrastate conflict in order to build a lasting peace? In addressing this question the thesis aims to contribute to International Relations and more specifically the emerging literatures of ‘critical terrorism studies’ and ‘critical peace and conflict studies’. Ontologically, the thesis is positioned in between the two subfields, peace and conflict studies and terrorism studies, of International Relations and draws on theories from both literatures and the more recent ‘critical’ turns of each sub-discipline; critical terrorism studies and critical peace studies. The case study of the Philippines and in particular the Mindanao conflict is relatively under-researched and functions as a comparative element as it, arguably, represents a microcosm of almost every type of conflict. It is the understanding of the thesis that there is a need to understand local realities and grievances in order to build a lasting peace in Mindanao where the root causes of the conflict is being addressed. Hence, the thesis seeks to understand the root causes of the conflict by focusing on Filipino history of governance and conflict. The roots of conflict is found to be the grievances of being deprived of self-rule, autonomy, and independence and of the right to its ancestral domain after centuries of various levels of oppression as well as corruption within the embedded, archaic power structures of Filipino political dynasties. Furthermore, the thesis tests the theoretical frameworks on the on-going peace process suggesting that the institutions and ‘one size fits all approaches’ in liberal peacebuilding can be found in the embedded power structures in the social, political and economic levels of the Philippines. The main contribution the thesis aims to achieve is to apply post-liberal peacebuilding theories to the Mindanao conflict by identifying and assigning the role of the liberal institutions to local elites. Therefore, the main argument of the thesis is that the peace agreement between the Philippine government and the MILF is merely reshuffling the power within the archaic power structures of governance and political, economic and social life within the Philippines, without addressing the root causes of the conflict. Consequently, this will not lead to a long-term lasting peace in the Philippines.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2020-06-01
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print and electronic copy restricted until 1st June 2020
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