Saying the Unsayable: Monarchy and Democracy in Thailand

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edited by Søren Ivarsson and Lotte Isager

The Thai monarchy today is usually presented as both guardian of tradition and the institution to bring modernity and progress to the Thai people. It is moreover seen as protector of the nation. Scrutinizing that image, this volume reviews the fascinating history of the modern monarchy. It also analyses important cultural, historical, political, religious, and legal forces shaping the popular image of the monarchy and, in particular, of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Thus, the book offers valuable insights into the relationships between monarchy, religion and democracy in Thailand – topics that, after the September 2006 coup d’état, gained renewed national and international interest. Addressing such contentious issues as Thai-style democracy, lése majesté legislation, religious symbolism and politics, monarchical traditions, and the royal sufficiency economy, the book will be of interest to a broad readership, also outside academia.

"…the timeliness of Saying the Unsayable cannot be overstated. Søren Ivarsson and Lotte Isager, starting from a panel at the 2008 International Thai Studies Conference, have pulled together a series of important papers that critically examine not only the use of lèsemajesté law in Thailand but the cultural, legal, political, economic and ideological context in which speech about the monarchy is proscribed- and struggles over it conducted." - Jim Glassman, Pacific Affairs, Vol. 85, No. 3, Sept. 2012

Now an independent researcher, Søren Ivarsson was an associate professor at the University of Copenhagen. Well versed in the histories of Laos and Thailand, he is particularly interested in nationalism, state formation and historiography in these countries. His monograph, Creating Laos, was published by NIAS Press in 2008 and has attracted much acclaim.

Lotte Isager is an anthropologist, writer and geographer at the University of Copenhagen working on various Asian and African issues.

Publication year: 2010
286 pp / 229mm x 152mm
ISBN: 978-87-7694-072-0, Paperback
ISBN: 978-87-7694-071-3, Hardback

NIAS Press