Rebecca Iszatt


ESRC-funded PhD student (Year 3) researching social media's effect on Thai society and culture

2019: IPS fellow at the Kluge Center, Library of Congress, Washington, DC.

"Khwam-pen-thai, online: multimodally entextualised discourses of Thai national identity ("Thainess") on Facebook": My PhD project is an interdisciplinary study of the way institutionalised formulations of Thai national identity are being reshaped - reproduced, subverted, dismantled - by non-state groups via Facebook. My work mobilises social semiotic multimodality to inform its theoretical and methodological frameworks, which is to say Thainess as discourse is understood in my work as being multimodally entextualised in Facebook posts (i.e., via the deployment of writing, image, colour, framing, etc. in concert vs. monomodally) and as being subject to both codified and non-codified mechanisms of social regulation. I am interested in understanding Thainess as much on moral/ethical terms as on identity terms, serving to constitute and nurture a deontic, dutiful and obedient society wherein stability and order legitimise, even necessitate, authoritarian rule - hence, the unyielding success of military regimes and the 4.5-year lifespan of the current military government. (As such, my work seeks to relate the social semiotics notion of interest to moral psychology/philosophy.) Facebook and the role of non-state actors in intervening in Thainess has yet been overlooked in the Thai studies literature; I argue that we cannot understand the contemporary shape and state of Thainess, which is a demonstrably socially potent discourse that enables authoritarianism, without first attending to its digital face and how it is reproduced, or challenged, outside of the institutions that it serves.

Research interests

- Thailand (politics, digital culture)
- Social semiotics
- Multimodality (inc. multimodal discourse analysis)
- Moral philosophy; moral psychology
- Evolutionary psychology