New paper coauthored with Asuna Yoshizawa was published in the Southeast Asian Studies 9(1).
It was a challenging but fruitful experience to work on the two new formidably complicated and deep topics for me: Southern Philippines and religion. Without Asuna’s in-depth and evocative ethnographic research in Iligan City which inspired, motivated and encouraged me, I would have never dared to work on the topics. It was a really good learning for me.
Yoshizawa, Asuna; and Wataru Kusaka. 2020. The Arts of Everyday Peacebuilding: Cohabitation, Conversion, and Intermarriage of Muslims and Christians in the Southern Philippines, Southeast Asian Studies 9(1): 67-97.
While armed conflict has occurred since around 1970 in the Southern Philippines, ordinary people of different faiths have cohabited as neighbors, lovers, and families. Why are ordinary Muslims and Christians able to create and maintain everyday peace although they have suffered from the conflicts and the state’s initiatives for peace have not yet been realized? After noting limitations of peacebuilding efforts by the state and nongovernment organizations, we analyze the arts of everyday peacebuilding practiced by ordinary people based on ethnographic research in Iligan City. First, Muslims and Christians have engaged in mutual assistance for everyday survival in the city where they live as diaspora or transients, who are relatively autonomous from their clan networks. Second, Muslim converts and many Christians regard those who practice other religions as companions who share the same “paths to happiness.” Third, when a multireligious family is pressed to choose one religion for its children’s faith or its ceremonial style, it avoids the rupture of family relationships by “implementing non-decision” to make the two religions obscurely coexist. Finally, even when Christian women married to Muslim men face polygamy without consent, they do not attribute the unfaithful behavior of their husbands to Islam but instead often blame the patriarchal culture of their ethnic group. Such a practice of “crossing divides” prevents religion from becoming an absolute point of conflict. Everyday peacebuilding of the ordinary can be a foundation of the state’s official peacebuilding, although there exists a tension between them.