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Cities of Hotspots: Digitality, Education, and Civic Creativity

Friday 20 March 2015, 1400 – 1600, Lecture Theatre 7

Ario Seto Hardjana
Frankfurt University

Norhazlia Husin
Universiti Teknologi Mara

Digital technology advancement has been a strong feature in Southeast Asian countries’ leapfrogging strategy for development (e.g.: Hill and Sen, 2005). Starting from the mid 1980s and 1990s Southeast Asian governments actively promote digital technology utilization and proliferation as part of the education medium at schools and higher education institutions.

Such endorsement however is uncertain when it comes to civic education to strengthen the civic capacity. With their own creativity, citizens have been creating projects to exploit digitality, both as practice and space, to become a medium of civic education and civic participation. Through smartphones, mobile gadgets, and new media technology, digital spaces like Facebook, Twitter, online forums are new popular hub for the Southeast Asian citizens while searching for their form.

Such effort is not without challenges in the plural settings of Southeast Asian societies. While groups of citizens are giving their best effort to educate their base and potential fellows, clashes and decoupling are inevitable as Maddern investigates in her Paper. Not to mention that governments still have the power to block and crack down digital sites, citizen participations are fluid and discourses are rapidly changing for lacking of authority as the paper from Hemtanon explores. Observing on a once-an-underground online community, Hardjana underlines the commons’ creativity in creating the state-citizen cooperation while discussing their revelation to civic education, deep participation, and the creation of new citizen communities.


Paper 1: The Transformation of Digital Savages: Online Forum and Creative Civic Education by the Commons in Indonesia

Ario Seto Hardjana
Frankfurt University

Many studies on digital movement have concentrated of the basis of the experts, “active citizen”, or activist. With the proliferation of digitality –practice, space, and gadgets- the popular commons are having the possibility to shape and form the construction of citizenship. My paper explains that the most sustainable digital movement in Indonesia does not come from activists but from an organic development of online chatters and online dwellers as it is rooted in their everyday life’s chat practice.

Taking the example of Kaskus, the largest online community in Indonesia, I will describe of how the forum transforms from an underground pornographic and hacking community to a strategic group which currently working closely with state agents. In Kaskus, state agents and the commons are hardly set themselves as oppositions as they become equal fellows of digital dwellers. Secondly, starting with banal chat, Kaskus members were able to discover common challenge as Indonesian such as democracy, transparency, and state-citizen cooperation, creating a common exploration and creativity to tackle these problems.
In an online space where virtual identity could be reflexively constructed, Kaskus member reveals their social roles in the condensed and continuous chat as juxtaposed to the greater offline society. Furthermore, with Kaskus’ netiquette, Kaskus members also learn of how to become a proper member of a community, and accordingly a citizen. Becoming a proper Kaskus member is all about civic education.


Paper 2: Thai Muslim Women Identity Dialogue in Digital Space

Amporn Marddent
Walailak University

The purpose of this article is to better understand the way in which Nisa Variety (Women Variety), the foremost modest fashion and lifestyle magazine for cosmopolitan Muslim women in Thailand, and Satree Haeng Thang Nam (Guided Muslim Women), the most recent established association of neo-orthodox Muslim women, as new Muslim women subjectivities are envisioned in the “third space” of digital arena. Nisa Variety and Satree Haeng Thang Nam have turned to modern media technology like websites and social networking arenas, i.e. Facebook. They create space of Muslim women experiences beyond scripturalist form and portray faith identity. The article will focus on the Facebook pages from Nisa Variety (with 5,161 Likes on September 29th 2014) and Satree Haeng Thang Nam (with 9,237 Likes on September 29th 2014) by investigating the circulating online narratives and conversations which they claim as a model of continuous education of enhancing righteous women virtue in accordance with Islam. Whether they had been criticized each other on the forms of repetition and affirm women’s attitude towards Islam, the space for dialogue has been created and arguably enabled in this digital space.


Paper 3: Quo Vadis Thailand: Thai Middle Class during transitional period in digital scheme

Wimonsiri Hemtanon
Universität Passau

The violent crackdown on Thailand’s pro-democracy movement in 2010 established Facebook as a crucial channel for information and communication among the Thai middle class in a situation of political uncertainty. It was not only used as a hub to self-broadcast a collage of news media snippets but also a medium of cross-examination and tales creation by citizen journalists, gathered from variety of social media platforms. Such actions lead to dualism of information circulation and insertion between the civil society and the government with each actor tries to form loyalty from their potential supporters accordingly.
The recent case at Thammasat University, when Thailand’s Military stopped a lecture on ‘Authoritarianism’ and detained the related persons, is a micro example. While the clash between the military and the students was taking place both sides were live-broadcasting nationally and advocate their perspective on the event. Here we can see the discrepancy about the actual public space and the virtual public space like new media according to the perception of the government and the citizen respectively. Such urban event confuses those who are far from the centre.

This paper aims to investigate of Bangkok’s urban middle class’ perspectives on political issues their expression of ideological affiliation during a period of political uncertainty within a new social media and digital circumstance, particularly in the arena of educating the masses.