Reading Up On Thailand: Corpses, Monarchy and Silk Barons

A few of the more interesting articles I’ve read about Thailand. Will updated as I go.

Thai Literary Trends: From Seni Saowaphong to Chart Kobjitti

“For what purpose can the beauty of the moon serve us when people are dying from starvation? The obligation of an artist lies in looking straight at distressing spectacles.”

The Strange Disappearance of Jim Thompson, Founder of the Thai Silk Industry

“At the time, Thailand had given up on its own silk industry, importing a cheaper fabric from other countries. The localized empire Thompson established would improve the lives of Bangkok’s citizenry, handsomely employing them in a business benevolently run. Still, his enemies were legion, and they extended all the way up into society’s highest strata. The mystery of just why and how Thompson disappeared, and by the agency of whom, is one that persists still and probably always will.”

Encountering Corpses: Notes on Zombies and the Living Dead in Southeast Asia

“Corpses of the recently deceased are used by some advanced trained monks as objects for asubhakammaṭṭhānameditation. Monks in Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand are known for meditating while staring at naked corpses.”

The Future of the Monarchy in Thailand

“There is no doubt that the King personally is enormously popular. But his personal popularity does not necessarily translate into legitimacy conferred to the institution. In fact, the opposite may be true.”

On the Politics of Nature Conservation in Thailand

““Pristine nature” is a paradoxical notion, an invented idea that calls for human non-interference in a certain kind of “nature,” which yet requires the protection and management of human beings through man-made laws and regulations to guarantee its viability. Human power selects and decides the places where wilderness must be protected or allowed to recover from human disturbance. Of course, not all humans have the power of selection. Only state and urban elites acquire the privilege of incorporating “nature” into their realm of existence and enjoying its maximum benefits.”

In Thai Cultural Battle, Name-Calling is Encouraged

“But now, to the consternation of some nickname purists, children are being given such offbeat English-language nicknames as Mafia or Seven — as in 7-Eleven, the convenience store.”

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