Thai street imaginaries : Bangkok during the Thaksin era (2001-2010)

Viernes, Noah Keone
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2012]
As Bangkok built toward a turbulent climax of street violence between 2001 and 2010, the nation's political fault lines began to manifest themselves as a series of stories, films, and creative work about politics in the city. Behind the "scenes" writers like Uthid Hemamul, Pinyo Traisuriyathamma, Panu Trivej, Kanthorn Aksornnam, and Siriworn Kaewkan framed politics as a particular form of urban visuality. Furthermore, filmmakers such as Apichatpong Weerasethkaul, Pen-ek Ratanaruang, Kongdej Jaturanrasamee, Pimpaka Towira, Uruphong Raksasad, and Santi Taepanich enhanced this visual perception with an auditory dimension that politicized listening. Together, these creative dimensions re-worked images of the urban street in an attention economy which served a symbolic role in Thai political history. These stories were also unique in their materialization of Thaksin-era power. They opposed the order of a global city standardized in the neoliberal management style of Thaksin Shinawatra, where new cultural and economic reforms were uncritically championed. From the smoldering remains of the Asian Financial Crisis, Thaksin's new thinking brokered a landslide victory in the nation's 2001 election, but opened new political divisions which led to his ouster by military coup d'état in 2006. The case studies assembled here reconstruct images of Bangkok to show how street politics operates as both an opposition to, and extension of, the media conventions of the Thaksin era. My critical approach to creative media serves two ethical purposes. First, it extends the perceptive space of street politics by capturing the everyday dimensions of a new multi-mediated city where mass transit systems and skyscrapers take flight from the landscape of the street. Second, it documents street politics even in the absence of historic protest events. This dissertation thus explains how urban settings come to be perceived as a significant space of political activity, and how the culture of fiction manifests itself in concrete ways at unexpected times.
Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2012.
Includes bibliographical references.
street politics, Bangkok, Thailand, creative media
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