East Asia in Action| Contesting Big Brother: Joshua Wong, Protests, and the Student Network of Resistance in Thailand

Penchan Phoborisut


While authoritarian regimes continue to depend on hierarchical order and suppression, today’s protesters enact resistance in nonhierarchical patterns. With networked communication, decentered individuals stage their acts of resistance to galvanize allies to support their causes. Through a triangulated textual analysis of social media posts, news coverage, and personal interviews, this research examines today’s student activists, equipped with technology to mobilize global attention—the currency in the age of distraction. It particularly examines the changing modes of political engagement of student activism, shifting from mass rallies to a series of fragmented events. Thai student activists forged the network of resistance, connecting with nodes with allies in the case of Thai student Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal, who invited Hong Kong student Joshua Wong to inspire young minds. On arriving at the Thai airport, Wong was detained. However, the force of amplified acts of defiance pressed for Wong’s release and destabilized truth production, monopolized by the junta. This article has implications for the study of student activism and the changing modes of engagement in politics and students’ practice of citizenship.


activism in Thailand, student activism, social media and protests, Joshua Wong’s arrest, and protests in Thailand

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