The Red Shirts’ Uprising: A Challenge to Old Paradigms about Thai Society
Friday, April 23 at 12:00 pm in Moore Hall 319 (Tokioka Room), University of Hawaii at Manoa

Presented by Anusorn Unno, Ph.D Student – University of Washington; featuring Marcus Ferrara (Foreign Area Officer – U.S. Army), Dr. Ehito Kimura (Assistant Professor from the Department of Political science, University of Hawaii) and Dr. Ben Kerkvliet-Emeritus Professor from the Department of Political science, University of Hawaii)

Abstract: The Red Shirts’ uprising which emerged right after the 2006 military coup and has intensified over the past four weeks represents significant changes in Thailand’s political landscapes. Streets in Bangkok which were used either by “the student movements” in the early and mid 1970s or by “the cell-phone mobs” in 1992 or by “the Yellow-Shirt Alliance” in 2004-2006, are now occupied by ordinary people from and of the upcountry in their attempt to express their political grievances and concerns. It is also the first time in Thai history that a Prime Minister has been brought to the negotiation table with protest leaders in a television live broadcast, and also the first time that such an uprising has forced the military back to the barracks. Several academic attempts have been made to make sense of these changes. The Red Shirts’ uprising, some argue, shows that the paradigm of an urban/rural divide (which implies that “rural” elects the government but “urban” overthrows it), is no longer tenable. Others maintain that the ruling elite conspiracy theory has also been discounted. In addition, the idea that there is a “class war” has also been debated and critiqued. The panel will discuss a crucial moment in Thailand’s political history and examine it through the perspectives of both Thai and international observers.