The Newsletter 59 Spring 2012

Disturbing Conventions. Wherefore postcolonial theory in contemporary Thai cultural studies?

Rachel Harrison

As we suggested in The Ambiguous Allure of the West: Traces of the Colonial in Thailand (co-edited with Peter A. Jackson, 2010), the study of Siam/Thailand has remained largely isolated from critical analysis inflected by postcolonial theory. Only a handful of Thai scholars have been drawn to this field of inquiry in recent years, among them the late Nopphorn Prachakul, professor of French literature at Bangkok’s Thammasat University. Nopphorn warned his readers in an introductory text on postcolonialism for Thai MA students against the standard kneejerk reaction: “That’s not relevant to us. We Thai have never been anyone’s colony.” (Nopphorn, n.d., 156, quoted in Jackson, 2010, 38).

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