Dr. Tyrell Haberkorn, Australian National University, Political and Social Change
“A History of the Possible: Dissident Literature after 19 September 2006 in Thailand”
Friday, 26. October 2012, 14:00 – 16:00, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Philosophische Fakultät III, Institut für Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften, room 117
The six years since the 19 September 2006 coup in Thailand has been marked by tremendous overt violence towards dissenting actors, notably during April-May 2010, and repression of challenging political speech, most clearly indicated by the exponential rise in charges filed and cases prosecuted under Article 112 of the Criminal Code and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act. Yet remarkably amidst the repression of these six years, progressive journals and publishing houses (Fa Diew Kan, Aan, Between The Lines, Typhoon, etc.) and bookstores (Candide, Book Re:public, etc.) have flourished. A new generation of dissident writers has emerged, whose poems, novels, and alternate accounts of the last six years directly challenge the coup and the oppression that has followed in its wake. Inspired by Audre Lorde’s assessment that, “In the forefront of our move toward change, there is only our poetry to hint at possibility made real,” this paper will offer a critical analysis of the poetry of Anon Numpa and Phiengkham Pradapkhwam, the fiction of Preedee Hongsaton, and several alternate forms of testimony, in order to trace the possibilities and limits of dissent in present-day Thailand. Literature, here, is then read as both a source and a form of history. In particular, I will trace the conceptions of justice, the risky and nearly illegal forms of speech deployed, and the forms of compassion present in these works to understand both this growing wave of new writers and the society and politics in which they intervene.