ASEAS 6(1) – Social Movements

Issue 6(1) was published in 2013. Find all article downloads below!


  • Activism and Social Movements in South-East AsiaDayana Parvanova & Melanie Pichler
    DOI 10.4232/10.ASEAS-6.1-1
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Aktuelle Südostasienforschung / Current Research on South-East Asia

  • Lowland Participation in the Irredentist ‘Highlands Liberation Movement’ in Vietnam, 1955-1975William B. Noseworthy
    DOI 10.4232/10.ASEAS-6.1-2
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    In the field of mainland South-East Asian history, particular attention has been granted to highland-lowland relations following the central argument James Scott presented in The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland South-East Asia. Scott’s analytical perspective echoes a long-term trend of scholarly examinations in the region. In a similar fashion, historical examinations of the Vietnam War period view the so-called ‘highlands liberation movement’ or the Unified Front for the Struggle of the Oppressed Races (FULRO) through the lens of a highland-lowland dichotomy. However, based on an examination of the biography of the Cham Muslim leader Les Kosem and various FULRO documents, this article challenges dominant assumptions based on Scott’s argument and argues that a focus on minority-majority relations is essential for understanding the origins of irredentist claims of indigenous peoples in the region.

    Keywords: FULRO; Highland-Lowland Relations; Irredentism; Mainland South-East Asia; Vietnam War
  • “If You Come Often, We Are Like Relatives; If You Come Rarely, We Are Like Strangers”: Reformations of Akhaness in the Upper Mekong RegionMicah F. Morton
    DOI 10.4232/10.ASEAS-6.1-3
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    In my paper, I offer a brief analysis of just some of the ways in which certain members of the Akha transnational minority group are redefining Akhaness amidst the Upper Mekong Region’s ongoing transition from “battlefields to markets”. Drawing on 32 months of research in the region, I bring attention to the efforts of certain Akha elite to promote a more formal pan-Akha sense of belonging of a profoundly religious nature. I highlight the complex ways in which certain local Akha actors are reshaping culture by way of multiple and shifting orientations to the past as well as the national and transnational in the contexts of social gatherings, communal rituals, linguistic productions, multimedia engagements, and cross-border travel. I argue that by virtue of these simultaneously multi-sited representations of Akhaness, certain Akha are composing their own theories of culture that in part challenge and incorporate dominant models of nationalism and globalization, all the while reproducing and claiming a distinctly Akha way of being in the world.
    Keywords: Akha; Identitarian Politics; Religion; Transborder Sense of Belonging; Upper Mekong Region
  • Translating Thailand’s Protests: An Analysis of Red Shirt RhetoricJames Buchanan
    DOI 10.4232/10.ASEAS-6.1-4
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    From 14 March 2010 onwards, a mass of suea daeng, literally ‘red shirts’, began a prolonged, mass protest in Bangkok, which eventually degenerated into the worst political violence Thailand has seen in its modern history, leaving 91 people dead, around 2,000 injured, and a city smoldering from rioting and arson. This article provides a narrative of the protests and the Red Shirt movement which is informed by my own eye-witness account of the events and built around the translation of Thai language sources I encountered. By translating and analyzing original Thai language sources from the protests, e.g. banners, signs, t-shirts, speeches, and graffiti, I argue that the Red Shirts have a more sophisticated, far-reaching political philosophy than many give them credit for. Also, as events unfolded, the movement developed and grew beyond its original scope by demanding justice for victims of the military crackdowns and challenging the political role of the monarchy. Both as a political movement and as a sizeable section of the electorate, the Red Shirts have the potential to drastically reconfigure Thailand’s social and political landscape.

    Keywords: Protest; Red Shirts; Social Movement; Thailand; Thai Political Crisis
  • Kontinuitäten im Wandel: Handlungskoordinationen von Frauenrechtsaktivistinnen in Aceh – Kristina Großmann
    DOI 10.4232/10.ASEAS-6.1-5
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    Muslimische Aktivistinnen nehmen in Aceh eine wichtige Rolle ein, indem sie soziale und politische Missstände zu beseitigen versuchen und Frauenrechte fördern. Im Aushandlungsprozess ihrer Visionen eines neuen Acehs positionieren sie sich zwischen ihrer persönlichen islamischen Religiosität und acehischen Identität sowie zwischen dem Nationalstaat und internationalen Konventionen. Die Frage nach den Erfahrungen und Einflussfaktoren, die Motive, Ziele, Strategien und Umsetzung frauenrechtlicher Arbeit von Aktivistinnen in Aceh bedingen, steht im Mittelpunkt dieses Artikels.
    Basierend auf einer 11-monatigen ethnologischen Feldforschung und biographischen Interviews in Aceh, argumentiert die Autorin, dass muslimische Aktivistinnen ihre frauenfördernde Arbeit nicht mit eigenen Erfahrungen der Benachteiligung durch patriarchale Strukturen begründen, sondern die anfängliche Triebfeder in der Betroffenheit, Empathie und Solidarität mit physisch und psychisch versehrten weiblichen Kriegsopfern sehen. Nach steigender Institutionalisierung und Kommerzialisierung von Wiederaufbau- und Entwicklungshilfe nach dem Tsunami 2004 empfinden Aktivistinnen hohe Diskrepanzen zwischen den Zielen der GeldgeberInnen und lokalen Organisationen und plädieren für eine Rückbesinnung auf die Bedürfnisse von Frauen an der Basis.

    Keywords: Aceh; Biografie; Frauenrechte; Gender; Islam
  • Participatory Theater, Is It Really? A Critical Examination of Practices in Timor-Leste – Julia Scharinger
    DOI 10.4232/10.ASEAS-6.1-6
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    Dance, music, and oral narratives are an important and vibrant part of cultural practice and heritage in Timor-Leste. But while Timorese people have used such creative methods and processes during rituals, celebrations, and their fight for independence, today arts and artistic expression become an increasingly popular strategy in development cooperation. Especially different forms of so-called participatory theater with origins in development cooperation, arts, and social movements, present themselves as innovative, participatory, and well applicable in terms of capacity building and stimulating positive social transformation. Based on the author’s experience and observations, this article critically examines the alliance between various stakeholders in Timor-Leste engaging with the fact that the current scene of participatory theater can hardly be seen as an independent grassroots or even social movement, rather than an initiated top-down process by donors with specific agendas.

    Keywords: Development Cooperation; Empowerment; Participatory Theater; Social Change; Timor-Leste
  • Thinking Globally, Framing Locally: International Discourses and Labor Organizing in Indonesia – Steve Beers
    DOI 10.4232/10.ASEAS-6.1-7
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    In the final decade of the New Order regime, Indonesian labor activists turned to international organizations as a key ally in the dangerous work of challenging the state-controlled labor regime. As the political context has become more open, international organizations have continued to play an important role in the labor movement. This paper examines the changing role of transnational labor activism in democratic Indonesia. First, the paper describes the emergence of the discourse of global labor rights in response to the challenges of globalization. It then sketches the historical relationship between the Indonesian state, the labor movement, and international activists. Finally, the paper examines an internationally supported union organizing campaign. Drawing upon the literature on discursive framing, the case suggests that while internationally circulating, rights-based discourses remain an important resource for domestic activists, such discourses must be translated and modified for the local political context.

    Keywords: Indonesia; Labor Rights; Labor Unions; Transnational Labor Activism; Transnational Social Movements
  • No Call for Action? Why There Is No Union (Yet) in Philippine Call Centers – Niklas Reese & Joefel Soco-Carreon
    DOI 10.4232/10.ASEAS-6.1-8
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    This contribution presents findings from a qualitative study which focused on young urban professionals in the Philippines who work(ed) in international call centers – workplaces usually characterized by job insecurity and other forms of precarity, factory-like working conditions, and disembeddedness. Nevertheless, trade unions in these centers have not come into existence. Why collective action is not chosen by call center agents as an option to tackle the above mentioned problems – this is what the research project this article is based on tried to understand. After outlining some work related problems identified by Filipino call center agents, the article will focus on the strategies the agents employ to counter these problems (mainly accommodation and everyday resistance). By highlighting five objective and five subjective reasons (or reasons by circumstances and reasons by framing), we conclude that it is not repressive regulation policies, but rather the formative power and the internalization of discourses of rule within individual life strategies that are preventing the establishment of unions and other collective action structures.

    Keywords: Call Centers; Coping Strategies; Everyday Resistance; Philippines; Precarity
  • Resisting Agribusiness Development: The Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate in West Papua, Indonesia – Longgena Ginting & Oliver Pye
    DOI 10.4232/10.ASEAS-6.1-9
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    The Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE), launched in 2010 by the Indonesian government, aims to transform 1.2 million hectares of indigenous and forest land in West Papua into largescale agribusiness estates for food and bioenergy production. This article looks both at the power structures and geopolitics behind the project and at the emerging resistance to the MIFEE land grab. What is the extent of local opposition to the project? What coalitions between local groups and organized movements and NGOs are developing and what national and international alliances are they involved in? How do they counter the state narrative of MIFEE as a development path for the region? Analyzing key documents of the different organizations and initiatives involved, we examine three distinct but connected narratives of opposition around the discourses of customary forest rights, Indonesian ‘imperialist’ subjugation of Papua, and land reform and food sovereignty. We argue that their relation to each other needs to be rethought in order to overcome internal divisions and to broaden and deepen the social movement opposing the project.

    Keywords: Indonesia; Land Grab; MIFEE; Social Movements; West Papua

Forschungswerkstatt / Research Workshop

  • Constitutionalism in Thailand: Key Questions of an On-Going Research –  Wolfram Schaffar & Ralph Guth
    DOI 10.4232/10.ASEAS-6.1-10
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Im Dialog / In Dialogue

  • A Buddhist Way of Drug Rehabilitation in Thailand – Approaching Drug Addiction With Loving Kindness: An Interview With Phra Maha Narong ChaiyathaCarina Pichler
    DOI 10.4232/10.ASEAS-6.1-12
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    Narong Chaiyatha has worked at the Quality Development of Life Center for 12 years and is engaged in diverse social projects as a Buddhist monk. The Quality Development of Life Center is an alternative program of dealing with drug addiction in Thailand and was established in 1993. On the premises of a Buddhist temple, the participants live together with monks, practice meditation, join chanting and dhamma talks, and help cultivate the temple. The program is part of the implementation of restorative justice in the criminal justice system. Depending on the severity of the drug addiction and the social background of the person, the Department of Probation of the Ministry of Justice sends clients to the center to take part in the Buddhist rehabilitation program for two months. This interview is based on the experiences of Narong Chaiyatha at the Quality Development of Life Center in Thep Mongkol temple, Amnat Charoen, Thailand, and gives an overview of some of the central elements of the program, positive impacts for the community as well as challenges in its implementation. The interview was conducted at the same location on 28 January 2013.

Südostasien sehen / South-East Asia Visually

Netzwerk Südostasien / Network South-East Asia

  • Südostasien in Österreich: Dreikönigsaktion, Hilfswerk der Katholischen Jungschar Österreichs – Philipp Bück
    DOI 10.4232/10.ASEAS-6.1-14
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Rezensionen / Book Reviews

  • Rezension: Ford, Michele (Hrsg.). (2013). Social Activism in Southeast Asia.Leila Schuh
    DOI 10.4232/10.ASEAS-6.1-15
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  • Rezension: Hall, Derek, Hirsch, Philip, & Li, Tania Murray (Hrsg.). (2011). Powers of Exclusion. Land Dilemmas in Southeast Asia. – Marion Kastenhofer
    DOI 10.4232/10.ASEAS-6.1-16
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  • Book Review: Jones, Lee (2012).
    ASEAN, Sovereignty and Intervention in Southeast Asia.
    Ramses Amer
    DOI 10.4232/10.ASEAS-6.1-17
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