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Protest, Participation and Profits: the Redshirt Movement in Thailand, 2010-2016

Sitthi, Khajornsak (2017) Protest, Participation and Profits: the Redshirt Movement in Thailand, 2010-2016. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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This thesis examines the Redshirt movement in Thailand between 2010 and 2016. Challenging Bangkok-centric and top-down analyses, the thesis attempts to provide a critical explanation of the Redshirt movement from the perspective of Redshirt local leaders and supporters. The thesis shows that after the severe 2010 military crackdown, the Redshirt movement shifted their orientation to Isan — the Redshirts’ stronghold and a territory with a long history of resistance against the Thai nation-state. The original contributions of the thesis rest on its systematic study of the Redshirt movement based on the use of primary and secondary documents and extensive fieldwork, including participant observation and numerous interviews with Redshirt leaders and villagers in three major Isan provinces, namely Udonthani, Khonkaen and Ubonratchathani. The core chapters of this thesis demonstrates that the Redshirt village movement emerging in late 2010 provided a new mechanism to revitalise the Redshirt movement which had undergone a leadership and morale crisis. Redshirt villagers had continued their challenges against the traditional elites by protesting for participation in Thai politics, characterised by political equality and electoral rights, but also protesting against political injustice, especially for Redshirt political prisoners. Most importantly, the Redshirts reinvented the movement by changing their strategies from street rallies in Bangkok to territory control in the provinces. However, the thesis argues that the emergence of Redshirt villages critically revealed existing cleavages within the red camp, and further generated conflicts with other Redshirt factions. Redshirt protesters are rich, if finite, political resources with which various different Redshirt factions and political entrepreneurs attempted to engage. Such internal conflicts revolved around leadership contention, mobilisation competition and quasi-ideology contestation. The thesis argues that these internal conflicts explain why the Redshirt movement, despite its massive size and sophistication in terms of members, areas and methods of mobilisation, has not been able to achieve their demands and to pose resolute and resilient challenges against the traditional political establishment. As succinctly evidenced in the absence of the Redshirts’ demonstration against the military junta in the post-2014 coup period, the thesis concludes that unless the movement is overhauled to address such internal conflicts, the Redshirts will unlikely be able to reunite the movement or pose resolute and resilient challenges against their opponents.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: The Redshirt Movement, regime-resistance relations, everyday politics
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (Leeds)
The University of Leeds > Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (Leeds) > School of Politics & International Studies (POLIS) (Leeds)
Depositing User: MR. Khajornsak Sitthi
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2018 14:54
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2018 14:54
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/19359

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