Sub-National Conflict, Clientelism and State Formation
Time & LocationSession 12
Fri 15:30–17:00 Room 1.201
- James Scambary RMIT University
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- Clientelism and Intra-Religious Tension in Post-Conflict Society: The Religious Authority Expansion in Aceh Yogi Setya Permana Indonesian Institute of Sciences
Most studies on clientelism in contemporary Indonesian politics is more eager to highlight the aspects that appear in the electoral contestation such as the practice of money politics and vote buying. It is quite rare to find studies that discuss clientelism and conflict. This is ironic because arguably, tensions and conflicts that occur in the Indonesian sub-national are caused by the struggle for distribution of resources involving informal political settings such as clientelist relations. Therefore, the Aceh case provides an opportunity to enrich the discussion toward the relations between clientelism and conflict. It is because, in the Aceh post-conflict context, there is inevitable competition between societal groups to compete for political power and economic resources. Traditional ulama emerged as one of the prominent political force in contemporary Aceh than previous decades. The traditional ulama are vital agency under the sharia project because they have a solid grassroots support and extensive network compare with other Islamic groups in Aceh such as the reformist-modernist and Salafi-Wahabi. They supposed to be an active agent for peace rather than contribute to social tension However, I would argue that the expansion of traditional ulama into power politics pave the way to intra-religious tension in Aceh. Their political interest which is intertwines with state-based clientelism contribute to producing discriminative fatwa and intolerance actions toward intra-religious minorities.
- Lottery of Power, Lottery of Guns: Pulling the Strings in Mindanao? Georgi Engelbrecht European Union
Years after the signing of two peace agreements between the Philippine Government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), some gains of the peace process have been undoubtedly visible in parts of the future Bangsamoro whilst violence and armed conflicts did continue in some others. The envisioned “normalization” in Mindanao has arguably not been fully realized yet, in spite of the objective of both GPH and MILF and the recent proper kick-off of various interventions. Witnesses to the armed conflicts in Mindanao point out that after the ebb of horizontal violence, a flow of vertical violence follows, with perhaps a small period of absence of hostilities in between or subsequent. The flow could be equally reversed. Thus, the boundaries between conflict and post-conflict, security and insecurity, and state of exception and normalization are exceptionally fluid in the Bangsamoro. Case in point could be the resurgence of clan feuds or ridos in Bangsamoro areas following the establishment of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) – despite Martial Law and the early stages of transition. Interestingly, the other perceived source of instability in Mindanao – the armed groups – hasn’t been studied with respect to their formation or continuous allure. These armed groups have often very local origins, which raises the question of their emergence and relationship with local leaders – not only local communities. Noteworthy is also their clannish structure, which has implications for studies of recruitment but also their ability to survive, thrive and expand within the specific local contexts. This paper aims to analyse several cases of violence in the Bangsamoro region between 2012 and 2019 and draw common factors. The distinction between horizontal violence, i.e. ridos and vertical violence, i.e. state-rebel conflict are hereby only secondary. If the clan or the “datu” is indeed the point of success or failure of absence of hostilities between warring parties, protracted inability to find conflict resolution or the re-emergence of feuding, then the implications for local peace-building are immense. Either their monopoly of violence will be tamed or broken by the state (not clear as of now with Duterte’s Martial Law) or they will adapt to a non-violent, non-oppressive state of benign leaders. In other words, are the “guns, goons and gold” rulers passé, or is the concept only revamped, being in the end responsible for peace and war in the barangays of Bangsamoro.
- Sub-National Conflict, Clientelism and State Formation in East Timor James Scambary RMIT University
After East Timor gained independence in 1999 from over two decades of repressive Indonesian military occupation, the UN then embarked on a comprehensive statebuilding exercise. Yet barely six years later, the country erupted in a prolonged civil conflict known as the Crisis. This event has generally been attributed to flawed UN statebuilding; to a top-down 'liberal' model that marginalised traditional social structures and leaders. Yet East Timor’s networks of power and informal governance have always had much more resemblance to prevalent clientelist forms in South East Asia than any UN imposed rational legal state. While largely overlooked, communal conflict has also endured ever since independence. This conflict is spatially specific to particular localities with a history of power struggles. As Raleigh and Linke (2017) observe, variations in informal governance and conflict intersect through competition over local power, state consolidation and political order. A state might have low capacity or be ineffectual in terms of monopolising violence, but may nonetheless draw on a variety of sub-national alliances with non-state actors to organise communities politically or mobilise for violence. This paper argues that rather than being a cautionary tale of poorly conceived statebuilding, the Crisis was central to the construction of current contours of power. Rather than being marginalised, traditional and local leaders were central to this process through their ability to mobilise networks for both conflict and electoral support.
Sub-national conflict and clientelist politics are widely acknowledged as significant obstacles to development and stability across South East Asia. Apart from separatist movements in southern Thailand and Myanmar, a number of sporadic, highly localised but endemic conflicts smoulder across the region, ranging from clan feuds in the Philippines, inter-village conflict in East Timor and the localised feuds in Indonesia sometimes referred to as tawuran. These low-level conflicts are often driven by local issues such as land or water disputes or inter-family tensions, yet may assume the appearance of broader narratives such as religion, ethnicity and political party rivalry. Dominant state centric portrayals of this conflict across the region commonly draw on reductive local/national or state presence/state absence dichotomies. Such scholarship rarely directly engages with the structure of political orders, the multiplicity of agents involved in violence and the presence of dynamic, subnational political relationships that give rise to distinct and recurring conflicts. At the same time, while it is often acknowledged that clientelist politics can lead to conflict, such as electoral violence, clientelist literature rarely directly engages with conflict. An emerging sub-national politics perspective, however, sees both conflict and clientelism as closely connected. This perspective, informed by political geography, explicitly interprets statehood and governance as a function of social relationships. Variations in informal governance and conflict intersect through competition over local power, state consolidation and political order. While a state might have low capacity or be ineffectual in terms of monopolising violence, they may nonetheless draw on a variety of sub-national alliances with non-state actors to organise communities politically or mobilise for violence. These non-state actors may in turn leverage these alliances for jobs, public goods or development assistance. Through this framework, conflict can be viewed as an integral process in state formation.
This panel convenes scholars working across the different scales and types of conflict, clientelist practices and governance in South East Asia. The aim is to compare and contrast the different ways in which sub-national conflict and actors articulate with national level formal and informal politics and actors. It seeks to answer the key questions of:
- What are the links between clientelist politics and conflict?
- How are local-level conflicts linked to broader national narratives?
- What is the role of sub-national actors in these conflicts?