‘We Are Quality Citizens of Bangkok Too’: Urban Activism in Bangkok During the 2011 Floods
The 2011 floods exposed vast inequalities in Bangkok in terms of those who were exposed and those who were protected. Reflecting Bangkok’s socioeconomic and political inequalities, communities in the peri-urban fringes, particularly slum communities, were inundated the most and the longest, whereas the inner city of Bangkok, the home of the central business district and many of the elite and the city’s industrial estates were protected by the national government. During the floods, many communities challenged this protection of the elite and have demanded more equal redistribution of floodwater and compensation if they are flooded. In 2011, 85 flood-related protests occurred in the Bangkok Metropolitan Region (BMR), most of them over the location and height of temporary sandbags walls, the operation of water gates and compensation schemes after the floods subsided. By looking at protests against the state’s responses to the flooding as a form of urban activism and as a claim to the right to the city, this paper considers a rarely discussed form of urban activism in the literature. After summarizing the activism that arose during the floods and reasons behind them, the paper focuses on two case studies of activist communities in Bangkok which two heavily protested against the uneven shape of the flood during 2011. It concludes by discussing the degree of the success of this collective action during the floods in claiming the right to the city in 2011.
KeywordsUrban protests 2011 bangkok floods Community-based activism Right to the city Inequality
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