This article examines the history of populist politics in Asia, and particularly in Thailand, in relation to two major developments: the rise of culturalism on the one hand, and the emergence of technologically mediated forms of protest politics on the other. Against a backdrop in which culturalism came to displace the more agonistic framework of class analysis, the essay explores transformations in the concept of political subjectivity, and the degree to which theatricalized expressions of discontent came to stand in for other kinds of politicization. I suggest that this mediatized drive to expression is borne of a desire for recognition within a distorted concept of the public sphere, and I argue further that the terms by which an escape from subalternity is being pursued in the contemporary world are no longer only those of “being heard” or “having a voice,” but of being “seen to speak.” This fact is then understood in terms of other developments in the global economy, and in reference to the specific history of electoral politics in the era of Thaksin Shinawatra.

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