The Academic Herald: EVENTS AND NEWS IN THE SOCIAL SCIENCES
July 5, 2014
The prominent Indian philosopher Dr. Seema Rohmetra of the University of Jammu is appointed Academician of Social Sciences for her more than ten years of teaching at the university level as well as her groundbreaking research on Ghandian ethics.
July 4, 2014
Dr. Eko Priyo Purnomo of the University of Bradford in the United Kingdom is appointed Academician of Social Sciences for his research in the field of Peace Studies.
July 2, 2014
The well known South African Theologian, Dr. Erna Oliver, of the University of South Africa was recently elected Academician of Social Sciences by the Board of the International Academy of Social Sciences. This is the highest honor bestowed by the IASS and is reserved for outstanding community leaders and for influential scholars.
July 1, 2014
International Conference on Leadership and Governance (November 1st, 2014, Palm Beach, Florida, USA)
March 12, 2014
The Thai Political Paradox
Dr. Otto F. von Feigenblatt, Visiting Professor, Keller Graduate School of Business, DeVry University (Miramar, USA) contact: email@example.com
To the outside observer the protests and the overall political struggle in Thailand looks like the traditional liberation struggles common in the developing world. Due to the concurrent nature of the recent stages of the struggle some may even make the mistake of connecting the Thai struggle with democratic movements in the Middle East, also known as the Arab Spring. Nevertheless, this initial conflation of the struggle against the Thai government led by the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) with the popular movements fighting for democracy in the Middle East is inherently incorrect. Form can be confused with essence by the casual observer of Thai politics. Yes, the PDRC mobilizes supporters to march and to protests against the incumbent government. This is very similar to what most movements have done in the Middle East and closely resembles the now famous occupation of Tahirir Square in Egypt. Another similarity is the apparent emphasis on non-violence, at least at this stage of the political struggle. The PDRC’s name includes the words "people" and "democracy", also very similar to other liberation movements. Therefore, on the surface the so-called yellow shirts of the PDRC look very similar to other liberation movements. Nevertheless, form is not essence and the similarity ends here.
To understand the present political struggle in Thailand it is necessary to look at recent Thai history as well as to understand important demographic and economic trends in the country. From an economic and demographic standpoint two trends are important. The first characteristic of the Thai economy that stands out to the experienced social scientist is that development in Thailand is heavily asymmetrical (Wyatt, 2003). Bangkok has benefitted disproportionately from government investments in infrastructure and from foreign direct investment. Wages and household income are much higher in Central Thailand than in the rest of the country. Another important observation is that the inhabitants of the upper South and central Bangkok share a similar culture which is very different from that of the Deep South and from that of the North and Northeast (Mulder, 1996, 2000). Superficial research shows that a few centuries ago those regions were completely separate Kingdoms (Heidhues, 2000). Therefore, two conclusions have been reached, first that economic growth and development has not reached the entire country, and second that there are important socio-cultural differences between different regions of the country.
In terms of recent Thai history connected to the present struggle two important events come to mind, the democratic constitution of 1997 and the election of Dr. Thaksin Shinawatra as Prime Minister. Both events are directly connected to the present struggle and complement the demographic socio-economic trends discussed in the previous paragraph. Thailand was ruled by several military rulers during the Cold War and its constitution was changed almost as often as its military rulers (Wyatt, 2003). The end of the Cold War and the economic boom of the 1990s combined with the enlightened ideas of a few members of the intelligentsia resulted in the passing of the most democratic constitution in the country’s history. With a strong protection of human rights, elected upper and lower houses of parliament, and nominal civilian control over the armed forces it marked a high point in the country’s democratic development. While the constitution was not as democratic as the one of the Philippines and suffered from the interference of several strong unelected agencies and institutions, it provided for a high degree of democratic governance and for respect for the rule of law.
The constitution of 1997 resulted in a shift of power from unelected bureaucrats to the common voter and thus political parties became more important than ever in mobilizing the vote. Thailand’s oldest political party, the Democrat Party, has a very conservative ideology mixing corporatism, extreme nationalism, and royalism. In terms of its core, the Democrat Party enjoys the support of the Upper South and Central Thailand, in particular the middle and traditional upper classes. In the early 21st century Dr. Thaksin Shinawatra managed to bring together a wide range of opposition parties to form the Thai Rak Thai political party. This new party favored globalization, development of the provinces, and greater opportunities for the poor. Predictably, TRT’s platform received considerable support from the provinces and from the working classes while it also created considerable opposition from conservatives.
Thai Rak Thai won several elections with some of the highest margins in Thai history, resulting is clear shift of power from the traditional bureaucracy and unelected elite to a new breed of elected officials supported by the broad electorate. This shift of power threatened traditional centers of power such as the Military, the bureaucracy, and conservative royalists. Traditional business sectors were also threatened due to the new emphasis on globalization and foreign direct investment. The result of the growing opposition was a Military Coup against the elected government in 2006 (Ungpakorn, 2007). The constitution was changed and a new one was drafted by an unelected committee under the supervision of the Military and other conservative elements. Predictably the elections under the new constitution brought back Shinawatra’s supporters under a new name. Maneuvering by the powerful unelected agencies, strengthened by the 2006 Constitution, resulted in the removal of two Shinawatra-aligned Prime Ministers, and to the rise to power of the unelected head of the Democrat Party as Prime Minister. At the end of his unelected term the government was forced by the constitution to call for elections with predictable results, the election of Shinawatra’s very own sister, Yingluck as the Prime Minister.
The popular election of Shinawatra’s sister, someone who had not been in politics before, made it very difficult for the opposition to make any sudden unconstitutional moves to remove her from power. Nevertheless the opposition of a vast array of conservative and reactionary elements continued to simmer under the apparent peace. An attempt by parliament to pass a law providing amnesty to both sides of the political divide for the violence that took place in the preceding years was met with strong opposition from the Bangkok elite and by a coalition of so-called Yellow Shirts opposed to the government and to its grassroots supporters. The Democrat’s party failure to mount an effective opposition against the measure inside of parliament resulted in the boycotting of the institution by Democrat members of parliament and in the subsequent mobilization of the Yellow Shirts under the new banner of the PDRC.
It should be noted that the PDRC has attempted to occupy government buildings, parks, and even threatened to occupy the airport. Violence has been limited due to the army’s neutrality; however several violent elements have been identified supporting the PDRC camp. An election that took place in February 2014 was boycotted by the opposition but resulted in a clear win for the governing party.
Understanding the PDRC and its supporters:
It is important to understand the interests of the PDRC and its supporters. While the PDRC is a relatively diverse coalition they share some important interests. Many of the movement’s leaders are disgruntled Democrat politicians who have found it increasingly difficult to have an impact on national policy due to the dwindling support for their party and the resulting weakness in the legislature. Others have deeper grievances touching important social norms and values. A small section of the movement is focused on national pride and tradition and fears that Shinawatra’s allies are moving the country away from traditional Thai values. The values they hold are respect for a highly hierarchical society, unquestioning respect for the monarchy, strong support for Theravada Buddhism, territorial nationalism, and a strong commitment to centralization of political and economic power in the capital.
Interest groups are compatible with democracy and people have a right to support the religion of their choice. Nevertheless, there are some values held by the PDRC that are inherently incompatible with democracy in the strict sense of the word. One very obvious contradiction is the role of the military vis a vis the civilian government. An important tenet of democracy is civilian control of the military. A majority of PDRC supporters consider the military to be an independent institution only accountable to the King. In turn, the PDRC supports a strong military role in influencing internal political affairs. Another way to understand this is that the PDRC views a possible military coup in order to remove the present government as not only good but necessary. Therefore the PDRC is clearly an undemocratic movement based on this value favoring political reform through unconstitutional violent means.
In terms of values regarding the proper role of the people, the PDRC is equally undemocratic. A highly hierarchical view permeates the ethos of the movement. The popular grassroots supporters of the ruling government are deemed to be unworthy of holding political power. Metaphors comparing and equating government supporters to children or even to untrained animals aim to disqualify a large majority of the population from effective citizenship. Thus, election results are considered to be invalid not because of the actual mechanism behind the vote count but rather by questioning the actual value of a person’s vote in comparison to someone else’s. Not only this is blatant discrimination but it shows a deep aversion to one of the integral values of a democracy, people’s power.
The hierarchical view of society is also evident in the economic policies espoused by the movement. A well known pseudo-theory proposed by King Rama IX but clearly influenced by other conservative thinkers, called the self-sufficiency economy, basically encourages people to be satisfied with what they have and to consume according to their station in life. This revival of medieval economics basically sends the message to the poor in the provinces that they should be happy etching a living from the land while the capital benefits from a free market economy and foreign direct investment. The problem with this view of development is not only that it ignores the future aspirations of millions but most importantly that it is detrimental to the economy as a whole. With a rising cost of labor in Thailand and a prolonged economic recession in the developed West, it is basic economic theory that it is important to develop a strong internal consumer market. How can this market be developed if a wide majority of the population is told to be happy with earning just enough to survive and to stop seeking to change their economic situation?
What can the international community do about this?
The PDRC and its supporters are nationalists yet they care deeply about the international image of their country. One interesting example is how the military decided to decorate its watchtowers in the city with flowers in order to reassure foreign tourists of the peaceful nature of the political stalemate. In addition to that, the language used by the PDRC clearly follows an international template intended to please foreign audiences used to the protection of human rights and universal democratic values. Therefore one of the most effective roles for the foreign observer is to shame the PDRC and to explain the true nature of the conflict to fellow foreigners. Another important action that can be taken is to communicate to the PDRC and its supporters that the international community defends the basic tenets of democracy.
Tourism and foreign direct investment play a very important role in Thailand and thus any fluctuation that could be explained as resulting from foreign opposition to an unconstitutional transfer of power will strengthen the democratically elected government and pressure the PDRC to give up some of its most extreme demands. Shaming can be a powerful weapon against undemocratic movements and even if the PDRC fails to change its position it will result in a negative defensive reaction which will further tarnish its image.
The PDRC is not a democratic liberation movement by any stretch of the imagination but rather a coalition of reactionary elements attempting to stop socio-economic progress so as to protect their interests. Foreign observers must see the movement as a conservative backlash to globalization, democratization, and decentralization. Another unconstitutional transfer of power in Thailand against the will of the majority of the population would not only be morally wrong but would accost the development of the country.
Heidhues, M. S. (2000). Southeast Asia: A Concise History. London: Thames & Hudson.
Mulder, N. (1996). Inside Southeast Asia: Religion, Everyday Life, and Cultural Change. Chiang Mai: Silkworm Books.
Mulder, N. (2000). Inside Thai Society (1st ed.). Bangkok: Silkworm Books.
Ungpakorn, G. J. (2007). A Coup for the Rich: Thailand's Political Crisis. Bangkok: Workers Democracy Publishing.
Wyatt, D. K. (2003). Thailand: A Short History (Thailand ed.). Chiang Mai: Silkworm Books.
Dr. Jimenez Murguia, Associate Professor of Sociology at Miyazaki International College, is the Scholar of the Month for December 2011. His research dealing with the relationship between Religion and Society has appeared in more than ten edited volumes and in countleess peer reviewed academic journals. Most importantly Dr. Jimenez Murguia embodies the ideal 21st century scholar, transnational while at the same time in tune with local developments. Dr. Jimenez Murguia is working on two books for 2013 and one of his books is about to be released in 2012.
Epic Fails!: Crystal Pepsi, Mullets, and the Icons of Unpopular Culture.
Under contract with Praeger Press, Santa Barbara, California. Scheduled for publication in 2012.
Pana-Wave Laboratory and the Risk Society: Conspiracy Theory, Failed Prophecy and Elite Knowledge among a Japanese New Religious Movement. Under contract with Cambria Press, Amherst, New York. Scheduled for publication in 2013.
Issues in Contemporary America: A Better Understanding of US Social Problems.
Under contract with Kenkyusha Press, Tokyo. Scheduled for publication in 2012.
Learning from the Ground Up
Global Perspectives on Social Movements and KnowledgeProduction
Edited by Aziz Choudry and Dip Kapoor
The dynamics, politics, and richness of knowledge production in social movements and social activistcontexts are often overlooked. This book contends that some of the most radical critiques andunderstandings about dominant ideologies and power structures, and visions of social change, haveemerged from those spaces. Written by authors working closely with diverse social movements, NGOs,and popular mobilizations in the Asia-Pacific, Africa, Europe, the Americas, and the Caribbean, itarticulates and documents knowledge production, informal learning, and education work that takes place in everyday worlds ofsocial activism. It highlights linkages between such knowledge(s) and praxis/action, and illustrates tensions over whose knowledgeand voice(s) are heard.download book promo
Indigenous Knowledge and Learning in Asia/Pacific and Africa
Perspectives on Development, Education, and Culture
Edited by Dip Kapoor and Edward Shizha
Based on the research and relationships of primarily diasporic and indigenous authors, thisinterdisciplinary collection on indigenous knowledge and learning is a rare attempt at bringing togetherindigenous perspectives on development, education and culture and related indigenist-critiques ofcompulsory modernization, neoliberalism and colonialism from the Asia/Pacific and African contexts ofindigeneity. Organized in relation to perspectives on/knowledge & learning concerning: development,formal education, communicative mediums, gender and health, this collection foregrounds the richinsights and contributions of indigeneity from India, New Zealand, Bangladesh, Taiwan, Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Nepal, Sub-SaharanAfrica, Tanzania, Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana.download book promo
- JAPS VOL 1 NO 2 MAY 2010 NOW AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD AND FOR ORDERING PRINT VERSION (MAY 18, 2010)
- THE JOURNAL OF ASIA PACIFIC STUDIES IS NOW INCLUDED IN THE EBSCO FAMILY OF DATABASES (MARCH 26, 2010)
- PROF. ANTHONY P. JOHNSON OF THE INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF HUMANITIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES (San Jose, Costa Rica) ANNOUNCES HIS CANDIDACY FOR THE POSITION OF STATE REPRESENTATIVE for 42nd Ward & 180th District, PA, (FEBRUARY 5, 2010)
- DR. VINITA CHANDRA OF BANARAS HINDU UNIVERSITY IS APPOINTED DISTINGUISHED SENIOR FELLOW OF THE JOURNAL OF ALTERNATIVE PERSPECTIVES IN THE SOCIAL SCIENCES. (DECEMBER 12, 2009)
- JAPS VOL 1 NO 1 DEC 2009 NOW AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD AND FOR ORDERING PRINT VERSION (NOVEMBER 20, 2009)
- Ask the Experts: (This Section of the Academic Herald includes opinion papers about current affairs) (November 4, 2009)
"Franco-African relations have endured despite the nascent and transitory hiccups in the train of cooperation. The mountains of adventitious and concrete advantages, opportunities and prestige that colonialism had offered France have spilled over to the post colonial Francophone states. The French hegemonic role as regards the Francophone states has been characterized by a heavy disequilibrium. This imbalance is seemingly perpetually designed in favour of France in spite of the so-called partnership that France professes. Relations between France and Sub-Saharan Francophone Africa (SSFA) can be easily considered from dual perspectives...." (read the full article)
- Ask the Experts: (This Section of the Academic Herald includes opinion papers about current affairs) (September 6, 2009)
"The spasmodic and obduracy civil war in the Darfur region of western Sudan has been on the world’s agenda for quite sometime now. But the solutions to the conflict are far from sight due to the complex web of actors and competing interests that are involve. Compounding the volatile military situation is that the responses of the international community have been highly unclear and not encourage enough. Additionally, Darfur region is not assisted by the vacillation of the international community on how best to reach long lasting political solutions. The crisis, opposing the Government of the Sudan (GoS) and its proxy militia force (the Janjaweed) on the one hand, and the different regional rebel movements championed by the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A), and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) on another hand, has resulted in the stupendous loss of lives and property. Between February 2003 when the war started and 2006, the conflict had resulted in more than 350,000 deaths, almost 2 million displaced (UNHCR, 2007. The State of the World’s Refugees 2006. [www.unhcr.org]), while mass raping, gangsterism, etc, are now the ‘normal’ ways of life in this ‘highly unfortunate’ region..."(read the full article) "The political circumstances underlying the Military Coups that took place in Thailand and Honduras in September 19, 2006 and June 28, 2009 respectively show some important similarities. Both coups were undertaken by conservative elements in order to remove populist elected leaders from their posts. Moreover, in both cases the populist leaders enjoyed the support of the great majority of the rural population. Nevertheless this paper attempts to explain how different international and regional norms shaped the regional and international reactions to the two coups. In the case of the Thai Coup the norm of non-interference was upheld by the Association of Southeast Asian States as well as by the rest of the International Community while in the Honduran case the norm of “protection of democracy” and “the rule of law” were upheld by the Association of American States and the rest of the International Community. This paper argues that the international community and other regions should learn from the prompt and decisive response to the Coup in Honduras based on a normative shift away from sovereignty as an absolute right and towards sovereignty as responsibility..." (read the full article)
- INTRODUCING THE LAGOS (NIGERIA) PRIORY OF THE GUILD OF INDEPENDENT SCHOLAR With the signing, on behalf of the Executive Board and Governing Council of the Guild of Independent Scholars, of the appointment letter by the Chairman of the Guild, Mr. Otto F. von Feigenblatt, the Lagos (Nigeria) Priory of the Guild of Independent Scholars officially came in to being on the 15 June 2009...
CONTENDING ISSUES IN THE NIGER DELTA CRISIS OF NIGERIA EDITED BY DR. VICTOR OJAKOROTU OF MONASH UNIVERSITY (NOW AVAILABLE) (SEPTEMBER 6, 2009)
- Dr. Patrick McAllister, Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Canterbury, is the recipient of the Award of Scholar of the Month for August, 2009.
end of August-September Issue
- Social Policies: Local Experiments, Traveling Ideas: The EVENTAugust 20-22, 2009 From Thursday, August 20th to Saturday August 22nd, the International Sociological Association's Research Committee on Poverty, Social Welfare and Social Policy (RC19) will hold its annual academic conference in Montreal, Canada. This event is organized by the Canada Research Chair on Citizenship and Governance of the Université de Montréal, with an organising committee drawn from across UdeM and Carleton University. RC19’s annual conference brings together leading international scholars in the field of comparative welfare state studies covering all parts of the globe and encompassing a wide range of disciplines including sociology, social policy and political science. Following past practice, RC19 2009 will include both sessions responding to the conference theme and others reporting on the ongoing research projects of RC19 members. Again as in the past, events providing mentoring opportunities for young scholars will be an integral part of the program. For all inquiries, please contact :Caroline Vachon,
Project Coordinator, CCCG, Université de Montréal RC19cccg@umontreal.caDépartement de science politique
Université de MontréalCP 6128, succ. Centre-Ville
Montréal QC H3C 3J7 CANADATéléphone : 1.514 343-5732
Fax: 1.514 343-2360
- GIS in the Humanities and Social Sciences 2009 There will be an inaugural GIS in the Humanities and Social Sciences 2009 International Conference, to be held at Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan from 7 to 9 October 2009. This significant international Geographical Information Science event aims to bring together an eclectic mix of humanists and social scientists have used GIS in their work. With a view to the development of GIS as an effective tool and approach for disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, scholars considering using GIS and doctoral students are welcomed as well. There are several leading figures in GIS scholarship in the humanities and social sciences to give keynote presentations. Keynote speeches will be presented by: Dr. Edward Ayers, University of RichmondDr. Michael Goodchild, University of California, Santa Barbara Dr. Ian Gregory, Lancaster UniversityDr. Trevor Harris, University of West Virginia To reflect the guiding motif of this conference - Innovating, Collaborating, Sharing – the conference will highlight cutting edge GIS work in the Humanities and Social Sciences but also showcase new directions. Recent developments in GIS and GISci suggest that we stand on the cusp of a step-change in research practice and outcomes as GIS is ever more widely used. We especially encourage presentations on exemplar projects that have developed GIS in the Humanities or Social Sciences, GIS-based work that has resulted in new scholarship and disciplinary understanding, temporal GIS, new methodologies and techniques, and the future of GIS in Humanities and Social Sciences. For more information about the call for papers and sessions, please click HERE. This conference is the first of three relating to collaboration between Academia Sinica, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, and Queen’s University Belfast. It also furthers the aims of the UK Historical GIS 2008 Conference held at Essex University in August 2008. By exchanging experiences on how to develop Geographic technology and applications, this Conference would provide the community with invaluable insights for future collaboration. Academia Sinica is able to offer some support to cover travel and subsistence for some speakers. On submitting a proposal, please indicate if you wish to apply for financial assistance and provide supporting evidence for this request. For more information about the call for papers and sessions, please contact Ms. Chang at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Shaleen Kumar Singh's unusual poetry book, Proprietary Pains published by our publishing house, Poets Printery was launched at Durban on the 25 March 2009. This book is now available for saleBook launches would take place at Allahabad and Badaun
Please contact: email@example.com
Shaleen's work in his book is a trail blazer for Indian poets, poems that are experimental, feelings that have emerged as words at the spur of a moment.
We at Glorioustimes believe in his immense creativity, this book of short poems would continue to inspire poets who believe that poems can be mere words bereft of structure and laws, if understood to its fullest capacity.
The Hungry Generation Movement that started at Kolkata in the late sixties advocated the same principles which Shaleen's work gives a whiff.
Shaleen Singh from Uttar Pradesh has contributed to a movement that is iconoclastic, reminding me of such people as Sasthi Brata and Erica Jong."
1. WE HAVE NEW MEMBERS OF THE ADVISORY BOARD (October 3, 2008)
The Journal of Alternative Perspectives has recently been strengthened by the addition of four distinguished individuals to the Advisory Board. Two members are prominent diplomats and the other two are eminent scholars.
Dr. Nolan Quiros of the University for International Cooperation (San Jose, Costa Rica) is one the foremost experts in sustainable development in Central America. His University is the leading private University in Costa Rica in the fields of development and the social sciences in general. In addition to being a prominent scholar, Dr. Quiros is the Vice-President for Academic Affairs of the University for International Cooperation. Dr. Quiros has expressed his intention to actively cooperate with the Journal of Alternative Perspectives in the Social Sciences.
Dr. Malcolm Cooper is a prominent expert in Public Policy. He has worked for the Australian Government and is presently the Vice-President of Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (Beppu, Japan). Dr. Cooper has promoted international education in Japan and cooperation with other universities around the world. Dr. Cooper has also expressed his support for JASSP and accepted to join the Advisory Board.
H.E. Morris von Feigenblatt, Baron of Feigenblatt-Miller, has recently been appointed by Presidential decree, Consul General of Equatorial Guinea to San Jose (Costa Rica). His Excellency has also served as Consul General of the Republic of Costa Rica to Alicante (Spain). The Baron’s career also includes experience in international development. His Excellency served as CEO of a Spanish Corporation developing the urban infrastructure of Saudi Arabia in the 1970s. In addition to that His Excellency designed and built one of the most beautiful landmarks in the Costa Rican capital, the Tara Hotel. Furthermore, the Baron has received numerous international honors and holds more than 10 knighthoods. As a sign of support to JASSP, the Baron has promised to represent the Journal in Central America and to promote it.
The Advisory Board of the Journal of Alternative Perspectives will continue to grow so as to foster international cooperation and continuously improve the quality and reach of the Journal.
THE EDITORIAL BOARD