Return to society
Demobilization and remobilization of former combatants in Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America, 1945-present
Call for Papers for a Workshop at KITLV (Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies) in Leiden, 23-24 January 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. Ultimately, after a decade or more of continuing flare-ups of violence and ultimately unsuccessful state-led efforts at pacification and re-integration, 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’. The result was a relatively stable and relatively strong Indonesian state, achieved through the subcontracting of state prerogative, and especially the state monopoly on violence, into the hands of non-state groups.
In our workshop on 23-24 January 2020 in Leiden, we hope to explore similar processes in Southeast Asian, African and Latin American (post-)conflict states, especially in the second half of the twentieth century. We are interested in historical studies on veterans’ movements, violent non-state actors allying with the state, paramilitary forces, ‘reintegration’ policies, or post-conflict pacification. If you work on any of these or closely related subjects, we invite you to join us for this workshop and share your findings in the form of discussion papers. We are especially still looking for speakers working on Southeast Asian countries, including Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines, and East-Timor, but other cases are equally welcome.
We have funding available to cover travel costs and accommodation (up to a reasonable maximum). If you would like to join us, please send us an abstract by 30 June 2019 and we will get in touch with you. If invited, full papers will be expected by 31 December 2019. We are working towards publishing an edited volume, supplemented with papers from a second workshop to be held in late 2020 (for which Amsterdam University Press has expressed interest).
Dr. Bart Luttikhuis
Researcher, Institute for History, Leiden University
P.O. box 9515
2300 RA Leiden