Kanokrat Lertchoosakul (Assistant Professor, Department of Government, Faculty of political science, Chulalongkorn University; HYI Visiting Scholar, 2023-24)
“The Cutting Edge Youth Movement in Thailand and Unfinished Democracy”
What got you interested in your research topic?
Growing up in a leftist activist family, learning about the power of ordinary people in changing the world and pushing forward a better society was a part of my childhood. The roles of young people in political activism have long fascinated me. My early academic research project was the 1960-1970s leftist student activists and their post-revolutionary lives. Thus, the revival, development and dynamic of the youth movement in 2020-2021 is inspiring for me. It was the most significant mass youth movement since the decline of the 1960-1970s youth movement. During the two-year period, they promoted countless numbers of protests in nearly every province in Thailand. Both universities and high school students played active and organic roles in the movement. Their demands went beyond youth interest. They called for structural changes, including a constitution, bureaucracy, military and monarchy reforms. They pursued both creative and peaceful protests, as well as militant strategies. However, they were eventually suppressed by the government. Their movement greatly impacted Thai society’s policy, cultural politics and political leadership. In observing these phenomena, many questions occurred in my mind. Why did youth activism return after nearly 40 years of disappearance? How do we understand their development and dynamics? What were the impacts of these movements on Thai politics and society? Where were the post-movement lives of leaders and ordinary participants? And this is where this research project began.
Outside of work, where can we find you?
I have energy for various activities in various places. On the warm spring and summer days, you can find me either along the Charles River on my kayak or in the Charles River Esplanade on my yoga mat. On a hot day, you may notice me dipping in the Atlantic Ocean, either on Pleasure Bay or Carson Beach. On rainy days, you may come to taste my new menu in my kitchen in Brighton. I love to explore new recipes and ingredients. During the bitter cold days, you may come across me in any of those brilliant Boston museums, galleries, music halls and ballet houses. So, catch me if you can.
What would you want to do most as a career if you were not in academia?
Definitely Travel Vlogger… For more than 15 years, my husband and I spent most of our time travelling the world. In academia, we can travel and explore different countries and continents. During COVID-19, we spent most of our quarantine in various beautiful and historically interesting locations throughout Thailand. Living in each of these locations for more than two to three months each gave us more experiences of how the local people live. During these trips, I have collected countless notes and VDO footage of experiments on foodies, trekking in nature, and vibrant conversations we have had with local people. It is now my dream retirement project to either compile all these notes or edit this footage, then turn them into a travel guide YouTube channel targeting middle to old people the same as my age. I already got the name for my YouTube, ‘Slow Travelers’. But it seems impossible now as I am obliged with many manuscripts and research projects. So, let’s keep it as a dream.
Read Prof. Lertchoosakul’s bio on our website.