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Open Access Bringing Grievances Back In

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Bringing Grievances Back In

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Towards an Alternative Understanding of the Rise of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in the Philippines

Over the past 10 to 15 years a pertinent critique has been formulated against the dominant framing of violent conflict in Muslim Mindanao as a mere struggle for autonomy or independence by a Muslim minority against the Philippine nation-state. This critique demonstrates how a wide range of coercive organizations compete over gaining access to rents, and how this competition is the main source of violent incidents. Furthermore, it is discussed how this violent competition over rent access has a clear subnational, intra-Muslim character. This article argues that, despite its obvious merits, this literature has come to overestimate the greed-related features of contemporary conflict in Muslim Mindanao and the coercive qualities in the build-up of political authority in the region. As an alternative, we wish to bring grievances and ideology back in, allowing for a more nuanced understanding of conflict and politics in the region. This will be done by illustrating how the spread of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as a legitimate and morally just alternative against injustices and inequalities within Muslim society has been crucial to the organization’s extraordinary growth in recent decades.

Affiliations: 1: Conflict Research Group, Faculty of Political and Social Sciences, Ghent University jeroen.adam@ugent.be

10.1163/22134379-17401001
/content/journals/10.1163/22134379-17401001
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Over the past 10 to 15 years a pertinent critique has been formulated against the dominant framing of violent conflict in Muslim Mindanao as a mere struggle for autonomy or independence by a Muslim minority against the Philippine nation-state. This critique demonstrates how a wide range of coercive organizations compete over gaining access to rents, and how this competition is the main source of violent incidents. Furthermore, it is discussed how this violent competition over rent access has a clear subnational, intra-Muslim character. This article argues that, despite its obvious merits, this literature has come to overestimate the greed-related features of contemporary conflict in Muslim Mindanao and the coercive qualities in the build-up of political authority in the region. As an alternative, we wish to bring grievances and ideology back in, allowing for a more nuanced understanding of conflict and politics in the region. This will be done by illustrating how the spread of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as a legitimate and morally just alternative against injustices and inequalities within Muslim society has been crucial to the organization’s extraordinary growth in recent decades.

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/content/journals/10.1163/22134379-17401001
2018-01-01
2018-09-26

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