Reimagining the Practice of Citizenship: The Visuals of the Unruly Youth in Thailand

Lecture | March 5 | 4-5:30 p.m. | 180 Doe Library

 Penchan Phoborisut, Assistant Professor of Communication, CSU Fullerton

 Center for Southeast Asia Studies

With countless protests since 2004 and coup d’états in 2006 and 2014, Thailand, once a thriving democracy, is now dominated by the military. Even with elections in 2019, the junta leader and other ministers were elected back to power due to the parliament being filled with allies and senators hand-picked by the junta. However, while the old conservative groups hold on, young Thais are speaking their minds. They resist being ruled by the despotic regime, making visible their acts of resistance while inventing new forms of protest in the realm of cultural practices. While it seems that the military and the royal and elite-backed government can have stability with clamp-down measures that silence political criticism, it is not easy to have all-encompassing domination when communication technology has been fragmented. Individuals introduce and advocate for their political opinions and protests on their personal communication networks.

This talk examines the visual communication that intersects the younger generation of Thais who reimagine ways to express their political opinions and define the relationship they would like to have with politicians and the state. When the media landscape has shifted to networked communication technology and the gig industry encourages us to share everything online, the young introduce and share their opinions, including critical political views in the digital terrain. These expressions can be seen in the forms of cultural practices such as selfies, hashtags, and events. Here the talk examines the visual forms of these political expressions, analyzing the changing dynamic of Thai young people, their emerging political opinions with hashtags, and their enthusiasm to reimagine the ways to practice citizenship.

Penchan Phoborisut teaches journalism and digital communication technology at CSU Fullerton. Her research areas lie in visual communication that intersects with social movements, social justice and digital media technology. Her latest project examines the changing modes of political participation in Thailand. Prior to joining academia, she worked in the broadcast media industry, as a reporter for the Bangkok Post, CNN World Report and NHK World’s Biz Focus. She was also a live broadcast news producer for the English newscast MCOT News at MCOT Channel 9 and Newsline at Channel 11. She received her undergraduate degree from Chulalongkorn University, a master’s degree in Radio and Television from San Francisco State University and a Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Utah.

 cseas@berkeley.edu, 510-642-3609