Duncan McCargo, Director, Nordic Institute of Asian Studies; Professor of Political Science, University of Copenhagen
Moderated by: Andrew Nathan, Class of 1919 Professor of Political Science, Columbia University
Thai politics have been extremely polarized in recent years: “yellow” (conservative) versus “red” (pro-Thaksin) contestations have divided the country, reflecting deep-rooted regional, class and identity cleavages. But Thailand’s newest cleavage, apparent only since 2018, is a generational divide that cuts across all other categories. Generation Z – Thais under 25 – seem to have a radically different understanding of themselves from older people. Digital natives who grew up online, and access information, virtually are rejecting deference, hierarchy and paternalism. They voted in large numbers for the short-lived Future Forward Party, which became the third largest party in the Thai parliament after the March 2019 elections. Since the dissolution of Future Forward by the Constitutional Court on 21 February 2020, many of these young people have become profoundly alienated from Thailand’s state and society, and have taken to the streets to demand far-reaching reforms. This talk will examine how intra-generational contestation is re-shaping Thailand’s politics.
The program is co-sponsored by the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, the New York Southeast Asia Network (NYSEAN), the Nordic Institute for Asian Studies (NIAS), the APEC Study Center and the Southeast Asian Student Initiative (SEASI) at Columbia University.