Aim SinpengJun 15, 2021
Opposing Democracy in the Digital Age
The Yellow Shirts in Thailand
University of Michigan Press 2021
Why did hundreds of thousands of Thai people rise up in opposition to elected governments in 2006, 2008 and 2013-14? What were the ideological underpinnings of the yellow shirt movement? How did the original People’s Alliance for Democracy differ from the later People’s Democratic Reform Committee? Were the yellow shirts simply trying to provoke military coups against administrations linked to the controversial former premier Thaksin Shinawatra? And why did the rise of satellite TV and digital media apparently undermine rather than enrich Thai democracy?
In this lively conversation, Aim Sinpeng – senior lecturer in comparative politics at the University of Sydney – discusses these topics with Duncan McCargo, director of the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies and professor of political science at the University of Copenhagen. She explains how many of her family, friends and neighbours took part in the yellow shirt protests, and argues for a more nuanced understanding of these movements, one that goes beyond the caricature of conservative royalists blinded by their overweening faith in monarchy.
Aim Sinpeng is a prolific scholar of Thailand’s politics, who has been at the forefront of recent work on the growing salience on online political participation in Southeast Asia. She is the author of Opposing Democracy in the Digital Age: The Yellow Shirts in Thailand (U Michigan Press, 2021). Sinpeng tweets at @aimsinpeng.
For Aim’s latest (Open Access) Critical Asian Studies article on Thailand’s 2020 student protests, see here.
Like this interview? If so, you might be interested in an earlier Nordic Asia podcast with Aim on the Future Forward Party here. Or some recent Southeast Asian Studies channel podcasts on Thai politics here and here.
Duncan McCargo is an eclectic, internationalist political scientist and literature buff: his day job is directing the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies at the University of Copenhagen. Learn more here, here, here, and here.