The power of the young

26 08 2022

Again, PPT is recommending some reading. Both articles are about young activists, and both are products of a new generation of scholar/activists.

The first is by Jasmine Chia, at Foreign Policy, and titled “How Thai Activists Troll the Monarchy.” Jasmine argues that since 2020, protesters have used humor and wit to critique the country’s politics and the monarchy. It is argued that dissent has entered the mainstream. In so doing,

protesters grew creative in how they approached these topics. “Kuan teen exists in Thai politics because we are not able to communicate directly, even though we all know what we are talking about,” said Attapon Buapat, nicknamed Kru Yai, a prominent pro-democracy activist and satirist. Buapat rose to fame with his own kuan teen skits at public rallies, featuring cobras, Deksomboon soy sauce, and Red Bull bottles—items instantly recognizable in Thailand as parodies of backstabbing politicians, military bosses, and tycoons, respectively. “I don’t have to explain anything,” Buapat said. “Thais immediately understand.”

The other article is “The Artivism of Incantations in Isan,” by Peera Songkünnatham, and appears at The Jugaad Project. A more academic article, it has an abstract:

Artivism is not necessarily a harmonious intersection between art and activism—it may also result from a head-on collision. This article explores the art of Patiwat “Molam Bank” Saraiyaem, a Thai folk poet-singer and former student activist who has shied away from the label “activist.” How does one soldier on doing activism with a wounded soul? My answer: through the power of ritual poetry and performance in restoring wholeness as well as acknowledging brokenness. This argument is constructed through description, comparison, and analysis of the words, the emoting, and the reception in two incantatory poems by Patiwat. In the first, Patiwat remakes the baisi su kuan rite to call democracy’s spirit essence back to the demos’s expansive body, with rallygoers as the audience-turned-agents. In the second, Patiwat remixes benediction and malediction in a double act of cleansing the traumatized self, with myself as a reader-turned-translator. Isan, the term meaning the Northeast as well as the hybrid Lao vernacular of the region, serves as a key to unlock an understanding of how Patiwat’s art both serves Thai pro-democracy activism and resists its dominant language and emotional regimen, sparking as a byproduct new activist possibilities in and beyond Isan.

Both worth reading.



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