International Relations

Imagined Insecurities in Imagined Communities: Manufacturing the Ethnoreligious ‘Others’ as Security Threats



How does a once familiar and benign ethnoreligious community become a stranger and a threat? This paper examines the underlying cyclical process that drives different ethnoreligious factions within a territorially bounded polity to frame each other as threats to their relative security and power position. By synthesizing interdisciplinary theories on security, religion, and nationalism, I develop a framework that explains how collective imagined insecurities are manufactured as tangible security threats. In particular, it identifies and describes the phases and the dynamics through which threatening conceptions and narratives about the ethnoreligious ‘others’ are developed, socialized, and legitimized. Applying this framework to analyze the lingering tensions between Muslim and Christian communities in Indonesia, I argue that this chauvinistic, zero-sum practice is underpinned by a three-phase cycle that is being precipitated by the emotive effects of ethnoreligious nationalism; hostile predispositions to securitize other ethnoreligious categories; and perceived indivisibility of sacred ethnoreligious homelands.


Thumbnail image of Manuscript_Imagined Insecurities.pdf

Supplementary weblinks

The Divine Tragedy of Securing the Sacred: Religion, Security and Nationalism in Southeast Asia
European Commission H2020-EU.1.3.2. - Nurturing excellence by means of cross-border and cross-sector mobility MSCA-IF-2017 - Individual Fellowships MSCA-IF-EF-ST - Standard EF Grant agreement ID: 793262


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