Building and Burning Bridges: Solidarity and Contention among Peace Activists in Mindanao

Doctoral Dissertation


My dissertation explains how activist groups’ foci of attention and interaction patterns generate different stylistic orientations toward action. This study addresses my broader theoretical interest in the power of cultural practice to affect group identity and collective behavior. My dissertation is based on 13 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Mindanao, Philippines, in the immediate aftermath of signing the historic peace accord that put an end to four decades of armed conflict. Civil society organizations and networks of Christian, Moro, and Indigenous peace activists played a critical role in the peace accord negotiations and social reconciliation efforts. By paying special attention to important extra-deliberative processes—the perceptual, interactional and emotional dynamics—of the peace activists, I theorize that activist groups’ spheres of influence and patterns of interaction shape their organizational foci, including activists’ theories of how to achieve social change and the types of project they choose to pursue. I analyze two distinct foci of attention found among Mindanao peace activists: these different foci in turn, inform and sustain two different styles of collective action: that of position-taking advocates and community bridge-builders. Organizational focus constrains group action over time, and differences in foci among activist groups often lead to tensions when they try to cooperate within the same network.


Attribute NameValues
Alternate Title
  • Building and Burning Bridges: Contention and Solidarity among Peace Activists in Mindanao

Author Hyunjin Deborah Kwak
Contributor Ann Mische, Research Director
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline Peace Studies
Degree Discipline Sociology
Degree Name Doctor of Philosophy
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Defense Date
  • 2017-07-03

Submission Date 2017-07-17
Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

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