SOAS University of London

Centre for Creative Industries, Media and Screen Studies

Uploading 'Playful' Muslims: Re-mixing Islamic Visual References With Thai Popular Music in Amateur YouTube Videos Produced by Malay Muslim Pupils in the 'Deep South' of Thailand

Speaker: Treepon Kirdnark

In recent years, amongst an on-going conflict which has cost more than 5,000 lives, there have been a growing number of YouTube videos produced by Malay Muslim minorities from the ‘deep south’ of Thailand. Consequently, we have seen a proliferation of ‘amateur’ videos which portray a broader depiction of Malay Muslims than shown in the media. 

This paper examines how Malay Muslim pupils have depicted themselves in self-produced music videos on YouTube. Montage music videos made by pupils have been selected because the music genre which has been used doesn’t require a high level of video editing skills, thus enabling 'non-professionals' to participate in a visual event. Within such montage music videos comprised of still photographs we see both the private and playful activities of Muslim pupils in the public sphere. Interestingly, the Muslim video makers are mixing their Muslim visual references – for example, skullcaps and headscarves – with Thai popular songs as background music, even though, historically, Malay-speaking Muslims in the ‘deep south’ have been struggling with both ‘Thainess’ and the Thai language imposed upon them by the Thai government based in Bangkok.

Empirical study into ‘new media’ such as YouTube has been largely absent. In applying the existing theories of ‘racial formation’ (Lisa Nakamura, 2008:202), ‘mimicry’ (Homi Bhabha, 1994:87) and ‘self-mediated publicness’ (Lilie Chouliaraki, 2012: 1), this analysis focuses on the interplay between Muslim visual references and Thai songs from six Youtube videos. This examination will also shed light on postcolonial Internet discourses concerning race and nation enabled by YouTube and self-produced media practices.