Bangkok, May 2010: Perspectives on a Divided Thailand

Bangkok, May 2010: Perspectives on a Divided Thailand
Date of publication:  2012
Publisher:  Institute of Southeast Asian Studies
Number of pages:  351
Code:  BM446
Soft Cover
ISBN: 9789814345354
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"This is a useful and welcome collection of essays, almost encyclopaedic, in examining the political, social, cultural and historical context of the dramatic political developments preceding and surrounding the May 2010 military crackdown. Although its publication comes almost two years after the event, some of the insights continue to be relevant in helping students of Thai politics attempt to understand the intense political polarisation in the country that continues in 2012. The book is encyclopaedic in at least two ways. First, there are a total of 27 authors, probably the most ever assembled in a book about Thailand. This reflects the crucial significance of the events in Thailand's history, so much so that these many authors were willing to provide essays. Most interestingly, the authors come from across the entire political spectrum. In reading the chapters, some of the authors can be readily identified as 'yellow' while others are solidly 'red'. For example, die-hard anti-Thaksin former foreign minister Kasit Piromya can surely be considered as one of the members of the 'yellow' establishment. The book is also encyclopaedic in the sense that its 26 chapters cover an extremely wide range of topics, from foreign policy during the crisis, to ethnographies of the rural countryside, to analyses about the motivations and dynamics of the 'Red Shirt' movement. For any student of Thai politics, such a variety of topis is of immense value" (Journal of Contemporary Asia).

"​Bangkok, May 2010
aims to identify the causes and meaning of these tragic events. In pursuit of this goal, the editors assembled over two dozen accomplished contributors from both Thai and western backgrounds. The essays are generally short and punchy, many having grown out of previously published newspaper pieces. There is a great deal of material for the casual observer looking for a basic chronology of contemporary Thai politics, but also for the serious academic studying the overwhelming complexity of what Michael Montesano has labeled Thailand's 'Slow-Burn Civil War'. In addition to correcting and contextualizing media coverage of the violence, this volume makes three important contributions: it provides nuanced descriptions of the two main political factions involved, offers a plurality of perspectives on the nature of their struggle, and present recommendations on the meaning of, and path toward, reconciliation" (Asia Pacific World).

About the publication

After a two-month stand-off between Red Shirt protestors and the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, violence and arson scarred central Bangkok in mid-May 2010. This shocking turn of events underlined how poorly understood the deep divisions in the society and politics of Thailand remained, even five years into the countrys prolonged crisis. This volume collects analysis and commentary on those divisions from an unusually large and prominent group of Thai and foreign scholars and observers of the country. Contributions examine socio-economic, political, diplomatic, historical, cultural, and ideological issues with rare frankness, clarity, and lack of jargon.


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