MICRO-MINORITY AND NEGOTIATED LIVES IN A DEADLY CONFLICT SOCIETY: A CASE STUDY OF SIKHS IN PATTANI
The three southernmost provinces of Thailand have been a “deadly conflict society,” extending over 15 years. In this area there are fewer than 40 members in the Sikh microminority, who coexist with 1.9 million Malay Muslims – the largest majority in the area. Out of the entire population, 89% are Muslims, 10% are Buddhists, and 1% are “Christians and others”. The Sikhs are counted as “others” among the micro-minorities. The key question is how do Sikhs — as a micro-minority — exist amongst the deadly conflict and tension between the other groups? With their differences in ethnicity and religion, as well as the rumor of Muslims intending to eradicate others from the southernmost provinces, a former Muslim empire. This research aims to study through the lens and daily life of a Sikh woman, examining how Sikh people negotiate for survival in the deadly conflict society between the Muslim majority and Buddhist minority in the southernmost provinces, while nationally the Buddhists are the majority and Muslims the minority. The study employs an integrated qualitative approach combining literature, field research, and in-depth interviews. The research findings suggest that being a micro-minority is not an obstacle to existence for the Sikh population. On the contrary, Sikhs use their status as a micro-minority to build negotiating power in society through social interaction in business, converting private homes into public spaces to generate power to negotiate lives. This also includes using the potential power within for their source of authority as community leaders and peace advocates in Women in Faith for Peace. These are peaceful and powerful ways for the Sikh micro-minority in Pattani to negotiate their lives.
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