(Im)mobilizing Bangkok: motorcycle taxi drivers and street protest

30 April 2014, 17:30 - 18:30

CRASSH (S1) 1st Floor


(Im)mobilizing Bangkok: motorcycle taxi drivers, street protest, and the fragility of power in the Thai capital

Claudio Sopranzetti (University of Oxford)

Abstract

This talk explores the mobility of motorcycle taxi drivers in Bangkok as well their adoption of it during the Red Shirt protests of 2010. I analyze how the drivers' physical mobility through traffic shapes their ability to find unexplored routes in the social, economic, and political landscapes of the city and to create paths for action where other urban dwellers see a traffic jam or a political gridlock. Such ability, I argue, directed their roles in  the street protest which blocked the center of Bangkok. When the everyday life of the city broke down, this talk will show, the drivers took advantage of their position in urban circuits of exchange to emerge as central political actors in contemporary Bangkok by blocking, slowing down, or filtering the circulation of people, goods, and information which they normally facilitate. In this sense, they reveal the fragility of state power in the Thai capital and its inability to control these mobile subjects.

Open to all.  No registration required

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