This book is an ethnography of the Malay Muslims of Guba, a pseudonymous village in Thailand’s Deep South, in the wake of the unrest that was primarily reinvigorated in 2004. It argues that the unrest is the effect of the way in which different forms of sovereignty converge around the residents of this region and the residents at the same time have cultivated themselves and obtained and enacted agency through the sovereigns. Rather than asking why the violence is increasing and who is behind it, like most scholarly works on the topic, it examines how different forms of sovereignty — ranging from the Thai state and the monarchy to Islamic religious movements, the insurgents and local strongmen — impose subjectivities on the residents, how they have converged in so doing and what tensions have followed, and how the residents have dealt with these tensions and cultivated themselves and obtained and enacted agency through the sovereigns. The phrase “We Love Mr King” or rao rak nay luang
inscribed on the decorated, footed tray is one example of how the residents crafted themselves as royal subjects and enacted agency through the sovereign monarch.
“This book represents one of the very few locally focussed anthropological studies to be undertaken in Thailand’s Muslim Malay border region since the upsurge in insurgent-driven violence since 2004. Just as noteworthy: the researcher is a Thai Buddhist who succeeded in establishing rapport with his Malay Muslim informants. Unlike most journalistic and academic research in this field based on hit-and-run interviews, Dr Anusorn’s work is founded on sustained in situ observation and participation with the local residents of the hamlet of Guba in Yala Province. Exploring a range of themes including local historical memory and place identification, Islamic practices, cultural rituals, complex local rivalries and violence, and interactions between villagers and military/state officials and projects, Anusorn skilfully highlights the co-existence and tensions between ‘different subjectivities’ in the context of the competing ‘sovereignties’ that inform the world of the villagers of Guba.”
— Marc Askew (author of Performing Political Identity in Southern Thailand and Conspiracy, Politics and a Disorderly Border)