in: Mark Anstey, Mark / I. William Zartman (eds.), To block the slippery slope: reducing identity conflicts and preventing genocide, New York: Oxford Univ. Pr., 85-109
For more than 40 years, the conflict in Southern Philippines has proven to be one of the most complex internal conflict in Asia. Measures to assist the Philippine government and the different Muslim rebel groups are incapable of bringing sustainable peace. Furthermore, ceasefires and peace agreements regularly collapse which further increases the threshold of re-negotiation. This paper systematically analyzes the nature of the conflict that may have been ignored in formulating policies. The domination of primordialist approach in the theorization of the conflict in Mindanao implies the use of ethnicity and religious membership as the determinant of difference. However, as this paper argues, it is not ethnicity nor religion which is the subject of contestation, but rather the social context that creates identity difference. The term “Bangsamoro” was first used by the Muslim elite to differentiate themselves from the “colonialist” Filipinos from the capital region in the course of popular mobilization. Although the term Muslim and Moro have been used interchangeable to refer to the 13 ethno-linguistic groups, “Muslim” refers to a religious membership, while the term “Moro” denotes a political identity. The Bangsamoro is therefore an identity of “struggle.” The theorization of the conflict in Mindanao involves the analysis how identity has been mobilized and crystallized in Southern Philippines.