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July 19 , 2009

Student Activism in Asia

Between Protest and Powerlessness


Since World War II, students in East and Southeast Asia have led protest movements that toppled authoritarian regimes in countries such as Indonesia, South Korea, and Thailand. Elsewhere in the region, student protests have shaken regimes until they were brutally suppressed—most famously in China’s Tiananmen Square and in Burma. But despite their significance, these movements have received only a fraction of the notice that has been given to American and European student protests of the 1960s and 1970s. The first book in decades to redress this neglect, Student Activism in Asia tells the story of student protest movements across Asia.

Taking an interdisciplinary, comparative approach, the contributors examine ten countries, focusing on those where student protests have been particularly fierce and consequential: China, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Indonesia, Burma, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines. They explore similarities and differences among student movements in these countries, paying special attention to the influence of four factors: higher education systems, students’ collective identities, students’ relationships with ruling regimes, and transnational flows of activist ideas and inspirations.

The authors include leading specialists on student activism in each of the countries investigated. Together, these experts provide a rich picture of an important tradition of political protest that has ebbed and flowed but has left indelible marks on Asia’s sociopolitical landscape.

Contributors: Patricio N. Abinales, U of Hawaii, Manoa; Prajak Kongkirati, Thammasat U, Thailand; Win Min, Vahu Development Institute; Stephan Ortmann, City U of Hong Kong; Mi Park, Dalhousie U, Canada; Patricia G. Steinhoff, U of Hawaii, Manoa; Mark R. Thompson, City U of Hong Kong; Teresa Wright, California State U, Long Beach.

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