Bringing a wealth of new source material into a theoretically informed discussion, Lords of Things will be required reading for historians of Thailand and Southeast Asia scholars generally. It represents a welcome change from previous studies of Siamese modernization that are almost exclusively concerned with the institutional and economic dimensions of the process or with foreign relations, and will appeal greatly to those interested in transnational cultural flows, the culture of colonialism, the invention of tradition, and the relationship between consumption and identity formation in the modern era.
Maurizio Peleggi is professor of cultural history at the National University of Singapore.
Thailand challenges these stereotypes with a reinterpretation as well as an introduction to the emergence of Thailand as a nation-state. The book argues that the development of Thai nationhood was a long-term process shaped by interactions with the outside world, its pursuit of civilization, and, more recently, globalization. Maurizio Peleggi’s original account investigates, among other issues, the evolution of the geographical and linguistic landscapes, changes in class and gender relations, the role of institutions and ideologies, modern cultural expressions, social memory, and the conception of the Thai national self as contrasted against the racial and cultural Others of Burmese, Chinese and Westerners.
Thailandis a concise and compelling introduction to the complexities that lie behind Thailand’s exotic facade.