Exploration and Irony in Studies of Siam over Forty Years
Introduction by Tamara Loos
Benedict R. O'G. Anderson is internationally recognized for his groundbreaking work on the politics and cultures of Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines. His early studies of Indonesia led to the publication of Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, a book that profoundly changed the way people understand modern states. Banned from returning to Indonesia after his interpretation of the 1965 coup was published, Anderson shifted his attention to Thailand. This collection of essays gathers in one book Anderson’s iconoclastic analyses of Siam (Thailand), its political institutions and bloody upheavals, its literature, authors, and contemporary cinema.
The volume begins with the challenging essay "Studies of the Thai State: The State of Thai Studies," followed by chapters that map shifts of power between the Left and Right in Thailand, the role of the monarchy, and the significance of the military. The final essays track Anderson’s own evolution as a student of Siam and his growing, more playful interest in billboards, ephemera, and film. Together, these works demonstrate an extraordinary scholar’s commitment to exploring Thailand.