New Media, Cyber-activism and Social Movements in Asia

Apr 1, 2015 | 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

A workshop sponsored by the Harvard-Yenching Institute

Read the workshop summary
The rise of new media and online social networks is one of the major forces that have contributed to novel practices of popular democracy in the last three decades. Formerly, traditional political movement often emphasizes street protests and direct contestation to power holders. The development of communication technologies, however, has altered the nature and dynamics of social movement by stimulating the diffusion of protest ideas and strategies beyond the limit of physical boundaries and the modern nation-states. Such changes have also transformed state-citizen relationships and surveillance practices in the political arena.
A growing body of literature already recognizes the rise of new social movements and the impacts upon the transformation of political landscape. Yet, less attention has been paid to the manifestation of political actions and their linkages to the roles of communication technologies that are interfaced with social and political movements, particularly the formation of the counter-public and public sphere activism. Meanwhile, in social sciences and communication studies, the subject of internet-based social networks has recently been acknowledged as an important resource for social movement communication. Nevertheless, few studies have investigated the specific features of online social networks and the key factors that affect the interaction between the online networks and actual social movements. Such factors include network leadership, usages, practices, and online-offline participation. Other key issues that need further examination are the changing state apparatus and transnational networking.
Since 2010, a number of protests and mass movements have been witnessed throughout Asia, ranging from the Yellow- and Red-Shirt demonstrations in Thailand to the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong. Despite the distinctiveness in nature, these movements are intricately connected and facilitated by the Internet. They occupied politically potent space in the city, while linking rural-urban political spaces with global and transnational spheres. Conceptualizing the roles of new and social media and the development of cyberspace as the new tool and language of social activism is thus significant to the understanding of public sphere and popular movement in contemporary Asia.
This multidisciplinary workshop will bring together leading scholars and researchers in cyber studies and social movement specialists in Asia. The workshop participants will explore the state of the art of current studies in new media, cyber-activism and social movement with comparative lenses to better understand and re-theorize the internet-based movements in Asia that affect people and political configurations. The workshop is intended to address empirical and theoretical issues in different national contexts relating to social change in Asia, which will shed light on emerging research agendas and new ideas in the study of internet-based social movement.
The objectives of the workshop are threefold.
  • To provide a theoretical and empirical overview of recent studies on new media and social movement in Asia as presented by specialists in media and social movement studies;
  • To equip workshop participants with conceptual frameworks and analytical views that are useful to further develop a deeper understanding of the central role of information and communication technologies in socio-political changes and emerging social networks in Asia; and
  • To identify key research agendas pertaining to internetworking, net-based political actions, cyber-activism that contribute to new forms of social relations, democratic mobilization, and popular movement in Asia.

Workshop Panelists:
Jing Wang, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Yukti Mukdawijitra University of Wisconsin; Penchan Phoborisut, University of Utah; Sudarat Musikawong, Siena College; Wahyu Dhyatmika, Harvard University; Pandit Chanrochanakit, Ramkhamhaeng University; Pinkaew Laungaramsri, Chiang Mai University


9:00-9:15     Opening, workshop objectives: Apiwat Ratanawaraha
Self-introduction of workshop participants

9:15-10:45    Presentations followed by Q&A | Moderator: Pitch Pongsawat

Jing Wang, NGO2.0 and Social Media Praxis
Yukti Mukdawijitra, Communities Reassembling: The Internet and the Assemblage of Hopes in Vietnam

10:45-11:00     Coffee break

11:00-12:30    Presentations followed by Q&A | Moderator: Apiwat Ratanawaraha

Wahyu Dhyatmika, Civic Digital Media in Indonesia
Penchan Phoborisut, Visualizing Thai Protests: “Self(ie)” Activism Against the 2014 Coup

12:30-1:15     Lunch

1:15-2:45     Presentations followed by Q&A | Moderator: Tyrell Haberkorn

Pinkaew Laungaramsri, Cyber Scout, Cyber Witch Hunt and the Rise of the Right Wing Movement in Post-Coup Thailand
Pandit Chanrochanakit, Anti-Thaksin Networks and Their Strategies

2:45-3:00     Coffee break

3:00-3:30     Presentation followed by Q&A | Moderator: Aranya Siriphon

Sudarat Musikawong, Youtube Subversive Repositories: Thailand under Authoritarianisms

3:30-4.00     Open Discussion | Moderator: Apiwat Ratanawaraha