Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Otherness: The Primary Cause of the Unrest Problem in the Three Southern Border Provinces of Thailand

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Otherness: The Primary Cause of the Unrest Problem in the Three Southern Border Provinces of Thailand

Article excerpt

Abstract

The purpose of this article is to review the concepts, theories, and research reports related to the concept of otherness, especially those mentioning other within and defining "otherness". The researchers analyzed and synthesized data collected from related literature reviews, and found the following definitions. 1) Otherness is an invention constructed by society under authority relationships to exclude and push away people who are different from the self to a lower social position, and nature is made into otherness by repressing and obstructing it to allow humans to be the master of nature. 2) Refused otherness is a result of conditions, identities, and positions given by society. Those who are pressed to accept these characteristics refuse ones that are not their own in order to separate "Them" from "Us". This may not refer to the construction of the opposite identities but rather of new identities instead. 3) Ethnic otherness is designated by the discourse of civilization as a result of an effort to construct a new type of state with boundaries to exclude others because of their races, ethnics or groups that are the same or different. 4) Construction of otherness in the three Southern border provinces of Thailand has emerged from the process of building a nation state, and the process of Thai-ization that takes place under the concept of exclusion and nationalism. This has resulted in culture of the majority of people in the country and that of the minority who are non-Thai with the status "Other within" of Thai society. In addition, the absence of understanding in cultural diversity has partially contributed to the unrest situation in the area.

Keywords: otherness, other within, construction of otherness

1. Introduction

The concept of otherness is based on a thought of separating things as contradictory pairs, especially distinguishing identity from differences, or distinguishing the "self" from the "other" (Charoensin-o-lan, 2002, 3-36). However, according to a study by Fueangfusakun (2003), the "self" can exist only when there is the "other". The study further describes that looking back at Western philosophers' thoughts, we find that Hegel thought that humans can realize about themselves only when they associate themselves with the outside world. Hegel gives an example about a master and a slave; the master separates himself from the slave because the master perceives that the slave is outside of his world, and therefore, the slave is not the master. According to the dialectical method, Hegel considers that human awareness is developed from antagonistic phase between the master and the slave to realization that the master can exist only when there is a slave to serve him, and the slave realizes that his life depends on his master. Thus, each party realizes that the existence of the other completes his own existence. The binary opposition concept emphasizes that we can exist only when there is the others support our existence. For example, we can have a higher position only when there are others below us; or we can classify people as normal only when we can define those as abnormal (Cuff, Sharrock, & Francis, 1990, p. 253). In this sense, even others who are different from us can be identified as part of us to make us complete or clearer. Separating ourselves from others is, therefore, not an absolute separation. If we and the others are the two sides of the same coin, for example, being a Thai has a complete meaning only when we realize what is not Thai such as being a Myanmar, being a Malay, etc. In other words, we cannot define being Thai, if there are no others who are different from us. Similarly, in the three Southern border provinces of Thailand, most people are Muslims and call themselves "Orang Melayu" even though they live in Thailand, they identify themselves as Melayu. This identification constructs otherness for the other group of people called "Orang Siam", which is used to refer to Buddhists who are Siamese, and otherness is further emphasized that it causes suspicions between the two groups by using religion in a distorted way, describing ethical differences and exploiting violence resulting in an absence of trust between the two cultures. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.