Identity Politics in Contemporary Southeast Asia


Identity politics emerged as a central phenomenon in contemporary Southeast Asia, which is in keeping with the region’s diversity and heterogeneity. The various ethnic and religious communities in the region have different historical experiences and cultural traditions that shape their identities and political aspirations. Identity politics has also provided empowerment and social justice for marginalised communities, such as indigenous and ethnic minorities. However, it has also resulted in conflict and violence as competing groups vie for political power and resources. This study finds that religion has played a significant role in identity politics in Southeast Asia. The region has various religions, including Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, and animism. Religious identity has often been mobilised for political purposes, either as a means of asserting power or as a source of resistance against dominant groups. The article highlights the different strategies that different countries in the region have adopted to address identity politics. Some have attempted to promote national unity and inclusiveness, while others have taken a more authoritarian approach, suppressed dissent, and imposed strict controls on civil society and media. The article concludes by suggesting that a more nuanced and context-specific approach is needed to address identity politics in Southeast Asia. A complex interplay of variables will determine Southeast Asia’s future course of identity politics. As the region continues to expand and transform, it is necessary to balance the interests of various groups and the broader objective of regional cohesion and stability.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i20398573v9n2p109

Keywords: Politic; Southeast Asia; Political Identity; Religion; Ethnic


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