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Document Type

Campus-Only Access for Five (5) Years

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Political Science

Year Degree Awarded

2017

Month Degree Awarded

May

First Advisor

Timothy S. Pachirat

Second Advisor

Frederic C. Schaffer

Third Advisor

Pitch Pongsawat

Subject Categories

Comparative Politics | Other Political Science | Political Science

Abstract

Today, resistance and popular movements are rarely concerned with the traditional institution of monarchy, especially constitutional monarchies. Against this backdrop, the exceptional political power of the present monarchy in Thailand provides an excellent portrayal of how the divinity, perpetuality, and inviolability of royal authority become gradually undermined. Through discursive analyses of formal and informal texts, interviews, and ethnographic fieldwork, I argue that resistance against the monarchy has become central not only to the emergence and development of the massive political “Redshirt” movement, but also to Thailand’s political transition.

Four points make my case: First, recent anti-royalism has emerged from existing royalist beliefs, entailing disappointment and betrayal. Second, instead of static homogenous voices of dissent, anti-royalism has evolved to feature various forms of resistance. Furthermore, anti-royalism is co-constituted through interactions among diverse groups within the Redshirt movement: leaders, sympathetic intellectuals, radical factions, and ordinary protestors. Third, anti-royalism has resulted from the direct experiences of violence perpetrated against Redshirts. Fourth, Thailand’s current conflict is characterized by contestations over meanings rather than armed struggle.

Focusing on proximate historical events, I present five crucial moments of transition which have shaped the anti-royalist trend: 1. The emergence of the anti-coup/Redshirt movement (September 2006 - 2008) 2. The development of ideological contradictions within the movement (October 2008 - 2010) 3. The period of extensive “eye-opening” (May 2010 – July 2011) 4. The period of “eyes opening but lips whispering” (July 2011 - 2014) 5. Military suppression (May 2014 - 2016). Hobbled by a severely restrictive political and legal environment, anti-royalists have hidden behind metaphorical ambiguity, jokes, anonymous vulgar curses, and parody. Before the fifth period, these “hidden transcripts” were reproduced through popular channels which tended to escape state surveillance: protest songs, poetry, speeches, symbols in both on- and off-line worlds, and academic seminars. The fifth period, of military suppression, has seen a clamp-down in which resistance seems to be nearly totally suppressed.

Redshirt anti-royalism is resistance within political hegemony comprised of elements both of accommodation to and rejection of power. It also represents conflicts over sovereignty, manifested through vernacular discursive practices against the monarchy.

Available for download on Saturday, May 12, 2018

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