Session Abstract: This panel examines mass protests as expressions of popular agency and political will, and so as an important factor in our understanding of Southeast Asian history. Here, as in other parts of the Global South, the Cold War was an era of decolonization, nation-building and state-formation--processes that often took place under authoritarian rule. Grassroots movements have subsequently played an important role in moving away from authoritarianism, a process still ongoing in many cases. This panel focuses on movements that have created a space for the marginalized, providing a voice for the long-silenced demands of 'the people.' Quinsaat examines how the EDSA People's Revolution brought down the Marcos regime in 1986 and continues to resonate under Duterte's rule in the Philippines. Tracing a parallel line in Indonesia, Sasono reflects on the recorded voices demanding 'Reformasi' in protests that ultimately led to Suharto's resignation in 1998. In each case, social movements have brought down dictators, their history and memories continuing to influence political transformation to the present day. As Jung argues, the 'Pink Dot' LGBTQ movement in Singapore does so by re-inventing the nationalist narrative so to claim part of the Singaporean way of life for its LGBTQ citizens. Similarly, Van shows how the pro-democracy movement in Myanmar embraces seemingly apolitical bystanders who support their non-violent mobilization amidst the zero-tolerance atmosphere of the country's authoritarian regime. As these 'Rising Voices' eloquently demonstrate, mass social movements continue to be a crucial factor in creating a more equitable society in Southeast Asia today.
Paper Presenter: Sharon Quinsaat – Grinnell College
Paper Presenter: M. Rizky Sasono – University of Pittsburgh
Paper Presenter: Minwoo Jung – University of Southern California
Paper Presenter: Van Tran – Cornell University