Islam and the Politics of Identity:
Lessons from the Philippines and Southeast Asia
Fred Magdalena, Ph.D.
Identity conflict, and the consequent politics of identity, is the struggle over definitions of or claims to
politically and culturally sensitive categories of being. In the Philippines, with a significant Moro (Muslim)
minority of 5%, and in neighboring countries where Islam constitutes the majority religion of people, the Islamic
identity is in conflict with secular influences brought about by colonization and globalization. Focusing on
Mindanao, the Philippines' last frontier, the speaker will discuss the conflict between secessionist (militant)
Muslims and the government, on one hand, and Islam and almost everything western or secular, on the other. This
struggle is synonymous with jihad, which is mistakenly assumed as "holy war" between a Muslim community
The Philippine experience is compared with those in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore with an eye to show how
a threatened identity copes with the modern state, and what modalities of conflict and peace are used by both the
state the groups in conflict.
Professor Magdalena received his Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa. His teaching and
research interests are in ethnicity, Islam and the peace process, specifically in Mindanao, Philippines. He has
over 25 years of teaching experience at Mindanao State University and was an Adjunct Faculty at Xavier University,
Philippines, and Chaminade University, Hawaii. He was a visiting professor at UH Manoa and a Research Fellow at
the Insitute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.
Date & Venue: November 17, 2003. Tokioka Room (Moore Hall 319), 12:00-1:30pm
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