The Mindanao Elite Problem

Event details


Date & time

Thursday 30 November 2017


Room 1.13, Coombs Extension (8), Fellows Road, ANU
ANU Canberra


Dr Charles G.L. Donnelly


Rory MacNeil

The Mindanao problem is steeped in the search for identity, territory and legitimacy. The default setting and supreme aim of the modern Muslim insurgency in the southern Philippines has been to achieve an independent Islamic state, to one day resemble a resource-rich polity like nearby Brunei. This goal, however, has been notoriously elusive. So too have been recent attempts to further devolve and decentralise the sub-national region, which consistently rates as the poorest and most corrupt area in the Philippines. Like other conflicts involving Muslim ethnic groups (e.g., southern Thailand, Myanmar and Afghanistan), the Bangsamoro Rebellion is layered, intractable and constantly evolving. As demonstrated by the recently concluded Marawi Siege, positive outcomes for the peace process have been continually challenged by agitations from violent extremists under the global war on terror rubric.

Dr Charles G.L. Donnelly argues that the Mindanao problem is an elite problem. Based on extended field research with elite respondents spanning several presidential administrations, Dr Donnelly considers perspectives from a range of elite actors to explore, explain and interpret the armed rebellion. In developing his elite typology and theoretical framework, he advances an interdisciplinary methodology that combines the tools and insights of Western social science paradigms in his examination of the age-old struggle. Primary consideration, however, is given to the deleterious role of Muslim elite disunity in addressing why the Bangsamoro Rebellion against the Philippine state is seemingly never-ending. Through a series of case studies outlining the dynamics of the region, Dr Donnelly illuminates his argument about the contradictory fusion of persistence and fragmentation as the central attribute of Muslim resistance.

About the Speaker

To date, Dr Donnelly’s research has concentrated on the themes of governance and development in the Muslim southern Philippines. He is the first Australian national to produce a doctoral dissertation on the dauntingly complex Mindanao problem. His original contribution to knowledge was to explore and explain the rebellion through the lens of Muslim elite perceptions. It was also the first doctoral dissertation of this nature in the world.

Updated:  10 August 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, RegNet/Page Contact:  Director, RegNet