'Gensan is halu-halo': a study of Muslim/Christian social relations in a regional city of the southern Philippines

Lois Hall

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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[Truncated abstract] This thesis is set in General Santos City (Gensan), a regional city in southern Mindanao, on the geographic fringe of, but largely removed from, the secessionist conflict which has continued to blight the lives of people in the South for over four decades. The land on which the city is located was originally considered to be the homeland of both lumad (originally indigenous animist peoples) and Muslim groups. However, government-sponsored migration programmes to Mindanao, post World War II, have seen the Christian population outnumber the Muslims many times over. In the years 2001-2002, the Muslims comprised just five percent of the city's population. While the conflict between armed Muslim separatists and government soldiers in the hinterlands provided an everyday backdrop to life, my challenge was to discover how 'ordinary' Muslims and Christians - neither elites nor combatants - dealt with the social reality of living in close proximity to each other in an urban setting on the edge of the main conflict zone. Through interviews I investigated the various class positions of individuals as they articulated their dreams for themselves and their families and the manner in which they went about achieving them. At the same time, I recorded the ways in which they viewed themselves, and their near neighbours, in order to elicit how social boundaries were constructed, and maintained, between the two religiously defined groups. Close observation of popular ritual events in the public arena provided ideal opportunities to investigate significant religious and social hierarchies that existed in the city. Good Friday Mass, as well as an Ecumenical service in the public park, enabled analysis of the religious hierarchy, and firmly established the primacy of Christian Catholicism, followed by Protestant Christian denominations, with Islam relegated to the lowest order.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2010


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