Contentious Bodies: Body as a Site of Resistance in 2020–2021 Thailand’s Pro-Democracy Movement

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Suriyaporn Eamvijit

Abstract

This paper aims to examine the body as topos for political contention during 2020-2021 Thailand’s pro-democracy movement, focusing on the body of the demonstrators from several groups including People’s Party 2020, Thalufah, and FreeArts in the demonstration sites as well as the body of the individuals who utilise their bodies to express their political stance in daily life through the lenses of body politics theories, especially the concept of Choreography of protest propounded by Susan Leigh Foster (2003). This paper argues that the bodily expression in the contemporary democracy movement in Thailand has rendered the protest against the monarchy as well as the dictatorial regime a “performance” that can be categorised into two groups: 1. The performance at the site of protest to reduce the distance according to Tali Hatuka’s concept of distance and 2. The performance in quotidian life as culture jamming. These performances extend the democracy movement from the ideological realm to the realm of the body, resulting in decreasing the distance between the state and its people through the use humorous cosplay to ridicule the holiness of the monarchy. At the same time, the physical display of suffering at the demonstration site reduce the distance among demonstration leaders, the demonstrators, as well as the audience. Furthermore, the contentious performance incorporates daily lives of the demonstrators as part of the “culture jamming” through the appropriation of pop culture in order to establish democratic, “au courant” bodies that are aligned with the Woke culture. As a result, these physical protests have turned contemporary pro-democracy movements in Thailand as convergence of ideological struggles in the political realm and individual’s life experiences.

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How to Cite
Eamvijit ส. . (2021). Contentious Bodies: Body as a Site of Resistance in 2020–2021 Thailand’s Pro-Democracy Movement. Journal of Social Sciences Naresuan University, 17(2), 99–121. https://doi.org/10.14456/jssnu.2021.11
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Review Paper

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