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Workshop | Return to society. Demobilization and remobilization of former combatants: Historical perspectives from post-conflict Southeast Asia and Africa, 1945-present

20/01/2020 - 21/01/2020

In the study of post-conflict transitions, a leading question has been how former soldiers and non-state combatants, previously engaged in violent conflict, can return to society, contribute to their respective communities, and reclaim their citizenship in times of peace. It is obvious that this process of returning to society is a troublesome and difficult trajectory, frequently leading to renewed violent conflict. Traditionally, for this process to be successful, a strong emphasis has often been put on extensive ‘re-integration’ efforts, through provision of education, social services, or economic opportunities.

Our ongoing historical research on Indonesia however suggests that in the 1940s and 1950s, rather than extensive renewed violent conflict or highly costly peaceful ‘re-integration’ efforts, a third avenue was taken: re-mobilization. Many veterans were once again mobilized in both non-state and semi-state (armed) organizations – anything from ‘neighbourhood watch groups’ to ‘election security forces’ to ‘plantation guards’. Veterans associations also came to play an important role. Many such groups entered into alliances with state and political institutions. The result was a relatively stable and relatively strong Indonesian state, achieved through the subcontracting of state prerogative into the hands of non-state groups. In our workshop on 20-21 January 2020, we investigate similar processes in Southeast Asian and African (post-)conflict states, especially in the second half of the twentieth century. Twenty scholars from a range of backgrounds provide historical studies on veterans’ movements, violent non-state actors allying with the state, paramilitary forces, ‘reintegration’ policies, or post-conflict pacification.

Organizer: Bart Luttikhuis (Leiden University/KITLV)

This workshop is a closed session. For more information please contact: [email protected]


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KITLV/Leiden University


KITLV, Room 138
Reuvensplaats 2
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