A few poorly organized men: Interreligious violence in Poso, Indonesia

SKU: 9789004244832 Category:

Nine years of violent conflict between Christians and Muslims in Poso from 1998-2007 elevated a previously little known district in eastern Indonesia to national and global prominence. Despite no prior history of recent unrest, Poso became the site of the most protracted inter-religious conflict in postauthoritarian Indonesia, as well as one of the most important theatres of operations for the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist network. The district was one of five sites to experience large scale communal fighting in the immediate aftermath of President Suharto’s resignation, but Poso’s experience was far from typical in democratising Indonesia. Even within Central Sulawesi province itself, circumstances in Poso differed sharply from other districts, none of which experienced significant communal blood-letting. Drawing on a decade of research, mostly conducted while the conflict was ongoing, this book provides the first comprehensive history of this violence. Highlighting an evolving ‘division of labour’ between core combatants and ordinary community members, it explains why intense violence could take place so suddenly in a previous quiescent location. The book also addresses the puzzle of why the Poso conflict was able to persist for so long in an increasingly, stable democratic state, despite the manifest weaknesses of the small groups of men driving the violence. Informed throughout by comparative literature on violent conflict, this book will be of interest to students of Southeast Asia and of diverse forms of ethnic and religious violence.

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