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Duncan McCargo in Danish media: Thai protesters need to befriend other social groups

Director of NIAS, Duncan McCargo, has recently published an article in the Danish newspaper Politiken. Here he argues that in order for the protests in Thailand to be succesful, it is crucial that the student protestors involve people from other generations and other political views - who nonetheless agree on breaking the anti-democratic spiral that the political system of Thailand is in.

The article can be read in it's full length bellow (Danish) or found on Politiken, where it was first published:

Asienekspert: Det er afgørende, at de thailandske oprørere skaffer sig venner fra andre samfundsgrupper 

Demonstranterne opnår ingenting, hvis ikke det lykkes dem at inddrage andre samfundsgrupper.
Demonstranterne i denne weekend udfordrede monarkiet på en måde, der måske vil fryde deres stærkeste tilhængere, men også skræmme mange mulige støtter bort, skriver Duncan McCargo, professor ved Nordisk Institut for Asienstudier på Københavns Universitet, i dette indlæg. 

Debat 23. sep. 2020 kl. 18.47
Duncan McCargo - Professor ved Nordisk Institut for Asienstudier på Københavns Universitet

De fleste danskere forbinder Thailand med afslappende ferierejser, evig sol og dejlig mad. Men vi fik en mørkere side af landet at se lørdag, da titusinder af demonstranter besatte den store plads ved kongepaladset midt i Bangkoks gamle bydel. 

De senere års folkelige opstande – for eksempel konflikten mellem såkaldte gule og røde skjorter – var typisk sammenstød mellem Bangkoks middelklasse og mindre velstillede thaier fra den nordlige og nordvestlige del af landet. De seneste demonstrationer er meget anderledes, ikke mindst fordi de for første gang i 40 år overvejende ledes af studenter, og fordi de går på tværs af de landets gamle socioøkonomiske og geografiske skillelinjer. 

Efter parlamentsvalget i marts 2019, det første siden militærkuppet i 2014, skulle magten egentlig have været givet tilbage til folket. I praksis er det dog stadig den gamle militærjunta, der sidder på magten. Den nye regering bliver ved med at undertrykke enhver opposition og foretrækker at styre landet med lovdekreter frem for at tillade en demokratisk debat.

Foruden de gamle politiske skillelinjer oplever Thailand i dag en dyb generationskløft. Studerende og digitalt indfødte under 25 år, der har adgang til information på internettet, udfordrer samfundets autoriteter og vender op og ned på de hierarkier, der længe har kendetegnet konservative asiatiske samfund.

”Skønt weekendens demonstranter var banebrydende i deres humoristiske brug af symboler, havde de mindre held med at skabe en bredere samfundsalliance”

Efter at forfatningsdomstolen i februar forbød det progressive parti Ny Fremtid, gik gymnasielever og universitetsstuderende i hele landet spontant på gaden. Ny Fremtid var indbegrebet af yngre vælgeres håb og drømme, og det vilkårlige forbud var et hårdt slag mod dem. Covid-19-epidemiens udbrud lagde for en tid en dæmper på utilfredsheden, men midt i juli slog de studerende til igen for at hævne sig.

Demonstranterne stiller tre centrale krav: De ønsker det nuværende parlament opløst (idet de mener, at parlamentsvalget var ramt af valgsvindel), de forlanger vidtgående ændringer af forfatningen, og de vil have sat en stopper for forfølgelsen af regeringens kritikere. Mere yderligtgående protestledere forlanger, at forfatningsreformerne skal gå hånd i hånd med en reform af monarkiet, hvilket hidtil har været et tabu i Thailand. 

Demonstranterne i denne weekend udfordrede monarkiet på en måde, der måske vil fryde deres stærkeste tilhængere, men også skræmme mange mulige støtter bort.

I de seneste to måneder har studenterne forsøgt at vinde opbakning fra andre samfundsgrupper, herunder mennesker, der på forskellig vis er påvirket af covid-pandemien, der er gået hårdt ud over turistbranchen og store dele af servicesektoren. 

Demonstranterne appellerer endda til konservative thaier, der er skuffet over den militært dominerede regerings sløje præstationer og utrygge ved det nye styre under kong Vajiralongkorn, som overtog tronen efter sin fars død i 2016.

En af de vigtigste studenterledere, Parit ’Pingvin’ Chiwarak, indrømmede i sin tale til demonstranterne, at bevægelsen kun kan fremtvinge gennemgribende forandringer i Thailands stat og samfund ved at vinde mere end halvdelen af landets befolkning for sagen. Og skønt weekendens demonstranter var banebrydende i deres humoristiske brug af symboler, havde de mindre held med at skabe en bredere samfundsalliance.

Udenlandske ambassader og internationale organisationer har været forsigtige med at udvise den store interesse for protesterne, fordi de frygtede, at de dermed ville delegitimere de studerende, der allerede er blevet beskyldt for at modtage penge fra udlandet. Thaierne må selv løse Thailands problemer.

Det er ingen sag at prædike for de frelste: Demonstranterne må først og fremmest række ud mod de thaier, der måske har støttet tidligere militærkup, men nu anerkender vigtigheden af et mere afbalanceret politisk system, som respekterer forskelle og hverken overskygges af hæren eller kongepaladset. Chancerne er ikke store, for tidligere protestbevægelser er alt for ofte endt i statslig repression eller militærkup. 

En anden mulig reaktion fra elitens side er at forsøge at kvæle protesterne i parlamentarisk imødekommenhed: Det politiske establishment forsøger nu at neutralisere de yderligtgående reformkræfter ved at satse på uformelle rundbordssamtaler om udformningen af Thaliands 21. forfatning siden 1932.

Det er lykkedes studenterne at få masser af opmærksomhed. Nu er det afgørende, at de skaffer sig venner. 

Hvis studenterne vil fremme deres sag, er de nødt til at inddrage mennesker fra andre generationer og af andre politiske overbevisninger, som ikke desto mindre er enige med dem i, at det er nødvendigt at bryde ud af den onde cirkel, Thailands politiske system er endt i.

Oversættelse: Lorens Juul Madsen

SUPRA Nordic Scholarship for Spring 2021

Date: 
Thursday, October 15, 2020

Are you writing your PhD or MA thesis in the spring of 2021? Are you looking for inspiration, materials or a space for concentrating on your writing? Then apply for the NIAS SUPRA Nordic Scholarship!

The Nordic Scholarship covers inexpensive travel to Copenhagen, board and accommodation plus a working place at NIAS! A perfect chance to focus on your thesis, have inspirational talks with our researchers or collect material from our library resources.

Deadline for application is 15 October 2020

Master Students: Apply for a stay of two weeks. Please specify your preferred dates in the application. Stays are available between 1 February and the end of June 2021.

PhD Candidates: Apply for a stay from two weeks up to one month. Please specify your preferred dates in the application. Stays are available between 1 February and the end of June 2021.

More information and application form can be found here.

Asia in Focus Issue 8 is out now!

Asia in Focus is a peer-reviewed OA journal published online twice a year by NIAS – Nordic Institute of Asian Studies. NIAS is a Nordic research and service institute focusing on Asia’s modern transformations. The focal point of the journal is the modern Asian societies viewed from the standpoints of social sciences and humanities. The geographical focus is the Asian countries from Central Asia to Oceania excluding Australia and New Zealand.

 
Asia in Focus was initiated by NIAS to provide Master and PhD students with a widely accessible and transnational forum to publish their findings. The journal accepts submissions (academic articles, academic essays, book reviews) to students from all European institutions of higher education.

 

Contents – Issue 8
 

NIAS is interested in nominating candidates for Marie Curie Individual Fellowships

Marie Curie Individual Fellowships

The Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS) based at the University of Copenhagen is interested in nominating candidates for Marie Curie Individual Fellowships. These EU-funded European Fellowships:

  • are open to researchers moving within Europe, as well as those coming in from other parts of the world.
  • can restart a research career after a break, such as parental leave.
  • can help researchers coming back to Europe find a new position.

To apply, you will need a completed PhD, a very strong academic profile and a research proposal of up to 10 pages, in a field involving Asian studies.

NIAS is a regional institute established in 1968, with its own academic press and library services. Administratively, it is located within the Department of Political Science at the University of Copenhagen (see www.nias.ku.dk).

NIAS supports work in all areas of Asian studies across the social sciences and humanities, but has particular strengths on East and Southeast Asia. Special areas of current interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Climate and sustainability
  • Comparative politics
  • International relations, especially relations between the Nordic region and Asia
  • Gender
  • Digital media

Because this scheme supports mobility, applicants presently based in Denmark or those who have spent 12 months or more in Denmark over the last three years are not eligible.

Anyone interested in applying should send a CV and a two page outline research proposal to NIAS Director, Duncan McCargo, duncan(at)nias.ku.dk, as an initial expression of interest by 25 July 2020. We will work with selected applicants to prepare the final application and nominate them for the Marie Curie fellowship scheme. Please note that we do not hold any funding ourselves: we are simply making nominations to the programme, with no certainty of success.

 

Further information is available here:

https://ec.europa.eu/research/mariecurieactions/actions/individual-fellowships_en

 

New article by Andreas Bøje Forsby

Andreas Bøje Forsby has written about Danish-Chinese relation in the latest isuue of Danish Foreign Policy Review:

For many years, Danish-Chinese relations were generally progressing smoothly, growing deeper and more diversified across a wide range of areas in line with the underlying objectives of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership agreement from 2008. In the meantime, China rose to become Denmark’s second-largest non-European trade partner, while bilateral cooperation were extended to cover areas like research, education, renewable energy, judicial affairs, tourism as well as a wide range of trade-promoting initiatives. Recently, however, Denmark’s relationship with Beijing has become problematized on several accounts, calling the overall stability of bilateral relations into question. The main drivers of this new development trend are the burgeoning US-China great power rivalry (i.e. its spill-over effects) and the re-politicization of fundamental political differences amid growing Chinese assertiveness in Denmark and elsewhere. Danish-Chinese relations thus seem to be entering a new era where it will become increasingly difficult to pursue a “business-as-usual” approach.

Read more in the attached.

The Nordic Asia Podcast

The Nordic Asia Podcast is a podcast series co-hosted by Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS) in Copenhagen and Centre for East Asian Studies (CEAS) at the University of Turku. 
Experts join us in every episode to share their insights about timely topics within Asian Studies.

The inaugural episode was a discussion of the South Korean elections on April 15th with Sabine Burghart from CEAS and Duncan McCargo, Director of NIAS. 

In the second episode NIAS Post Doc Researcher Andreas Bøje Forsby joined Duncan McCargo for a conversation on China-Denmark relations.

Since then, the podcast series has covered a wide range of timely topics on Asia, from ethnic Vietnamese in Cambodia with Lucrezia Canzutti, to the COVID-19 lockdown in India Sirpa Tenhunen and Jelena Salmi, the Rohingya crisis in Bangladesh with Arild Ruud, and the branding of post-coup Thailand with Petra Desatova.

Listen to it on AsiaPortal.

 

Message from the Director of NIAS, Duncan McCargo

Welcome to the NIAS website.  

Our greetings during this very difficult period: we are all facing unprecedented challenges because of the COVID-19 virus that is having so many adverse impacts on our personal and professional lives.

Following instructions from the Danish government NIAS had to cease physical operations, along with our host institution the University of Copenhagen, on 12 March. However, NIAS remains very much alive and well. We are continuing to offer our online resources through the AsiaPortal (https://www.asiaportal.info/ - do take a look if you have not visited lately) and to work on publishing, grant applications and other projects. We also recently relaunched our InFocus blog feature on the AsiaPortal – please send your ideas or contributions to info@nias.ku.dk.

We are, of course, not currently able to host academic visitors or guest speakers on campus. However, starting from the week beginning 20 April, we will be hosting regular virtual events, and launching a new Nordic Asia podcast series in collaboration with the Centre of East Asian Studies at the University of Turku in Finland. 

Please keep in touch – we welcome your feedback, ideas and suggestions.

All the best
Duncan

 

Ny Ræson artikel af Andreas Bøje Forsby

Er Kina en revisionistisk stat, der forsøger at nedbryde den eksisterende internationale orden med henblik på at opbygge en alternativ orden centreret om Riget i Midten? Nej, svarer NIAS-forsker Andreas Bøje Forsby i det seneste nummer af RÆSON-magasinet. Men Beijing forfølger i dag sine kerneinteresser på en mere selvhævdende måde end tidligere. I artiklen analyserer han først omfanget af Kinas institutionelle, politiske, økonomiske og geopolitiske revisionisme og ser dernæst nærmere på, hvordan Kinas ekspanderende kerneinteresser går hånd i hånd med en mere selvhævdende udenrigspolitik.

Læs hele artiklen i det vedhæftede.

Corona Virus prevention: NIAS is closed from 13 March

Date: 
Friday, March 13, 2020 to Monday, March 23, 2020

In order to mitigate the spread of the Corona virus the Danish government has decided that students and staff at all higher education institutions in Denmark are not to turn up at the University for studying or working from 13 March onwards. University of Copenhagen and with it NIAS will therefore be closed down for a period of at least a fortnight and we will carry on our work from home. You can reach us on our emails, please see our staff list.

Read more about the closure at University of Copenhagen

Call for chapter proposals

Reframing Transnational Researcher Positionalities:
Decolonial Resistance and Cross-Border Dynamics of Knowing and Unknowing


Excerpt:

This call for chapter proposals seeks empirical as well as theoretical contributions which explore one or several of the below-mentioned questions:

  1. How are transnational researcher positions situationally constructed and institutionally conditioned? Which sets of power relations are at stake in such positionings and how do they operate both within and beyond the frameworks of coloniality and neo-liberalist knowledge regimes (Cannella & Koro-Lungberg 2017; Kuokkanen 2011; Mohanty 2013)?

  2. What does having and/or claiming transnational positionality entail in accounting for the ways power systems inform and influence our research practices? What are the related methodological consequences/implications for knowledge production as abyssal (De Sousa Santos 2007) and/or interwoven situated (Haraway 1999) practices?

  3. What can critical engagement with knowledge production regimes as situated through transnational researcher and participant positionalities offer in rethinking/framing the politics of knowledge as a decolonizing project that imagines alternative destinations for all kinds of social, material, scholarly and artistic capital?

    We seek contributions that shed light on the shifting directions of migration and mobility flows, and the many conditioning transnational experiences that are involved in research practices. We also welcome contributions from different disciplinary, theoretical and thematic lines of inquiry, but particularly invite scholars of feminist, post-colonial/decolonial, indigenous and migration studies to contribute.

    Interested authors are invited to send an abstract (two versions: one extended abstract of maximum 750-1000 words and one shorter version of approx. 300 words) of the proposed chapter to Yan Zhao yan.zhao@nord.no, Magdalena Nowicka nowicka@dezim-institut.de and Marie Lovrod marie.lovrod@usask.ca before May 15th, 2020.

    The abstract must clearly state the title, question(s) for discussion within the framework of the book, theoretical or/and empirical ground, alongside with short bio(s) of up to 75 words per author.
     

    Read the full call for chapter proposals here.

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