Andrew WalkerThailand’s Political Peasants: Power in the Modern Rural Economy

University of Wisconsin Press, 2012

by Nick Cheesman on February 16, 2015

Andrew Walker

View on Amazon

Over the last decade, debates about political turmoil in Thailand have loomed large in talk shows, chat rooms and public lectures. From the military coup of 2006 that ousted the government of Thaksin Shinawatra, through the tumultuous years after the restoration of civilian government and the latest coup of 2014, events in Thailand have held our attention. Much of the time, these events are reduced to simplistic binaries: yellow shirts and red shirts, elites and commoners, urbanites and rural dwellers.

In Thailand’s Political Peasants: Power in the Modern Rural Economy (University of Wisconsin Press, 2012) Andrew Walker, co-founder of the influential New Mandala website—takes the reader beyond the binaries. Rural politics in contemporary Thailand, he advises, is not the old resistant politics of the rural poor; rather, it is a new middle-income politics, a politics through which rural people seek out productive connections with sources of power. In this fundamental shift in the thinking and practices of rural people, Walker argues, we find the basis of support for a new type of constitutionalism, as well as the sources of grievances that have led, at least in part, to the conflicts of the last decade.

Thailand’s Political Peasants deftly guides the reader through the many domains of power that constitute rural politics in Thailand: from the world of matrilineal spirits to organic fertilizer projects and electoral politics. The book is full of photographs, maps, and tables that add to the breadth and depth of its contents. Written with ease and flair, it offers a lucid and persuasive account of how rural Thailand is modernizing, and what change in the village means for the politics of Bangkok.

{ 0 comments }

Robert Cribb, Helen Gilbert, and Helen TiffinWild Man from Borneo: A Cultural History of the Orangutan

January 15, 2015

Robert Cribb and his co-authors Helen Gilbert and Helen Tiffin have together drawn on the resources of history, literature, film, science, and cultural theory to write Wild Man from Borneo: A Cultural History of the Orangutan (University of Hawaii Press, 2014), an unusual and fascinating story spanning four centuries of human-orangutan encounters in Southeast Asia […]

Read the full article →

Erik BraunThe Birth of Insight: Meditation, Modern Buddhism, and the Burmese Monk Ledi Sayadaw

January 9, 2015

[Cross-posted from New Books in Buddhist Studies] Erik Braun’s recent book, The Birth of Insight: Meditation, Modern Buddhism, and the Burmese Monk Ledi Sayadaw (University of Chicago Press, 2013), examines the spread of Burmese Buddhist meditation practices during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and the social, political, and intellectual historical contexts that gave rise to this development.  Braun accomplishes […]

Read the full article →

Jothie RajahAuthoritarian Rule of Law: Legislation, Discourse and Legitimacy in Singapore

December 15, 2014

In Authoritarian Rule of Law: Legislation, Discourse and Legitimacy in Singapore (Cambridge University Press, 2012), Jothie Rajah tells a compelling story of the rule of law as discourse and praxis serving illiberal ends. Through a series of case studies on legislation criminalizing vandalism and regulating the print media, legal profession, and religion in Singapore, Rajah raises critical […]

Read the full article →

Michael HawkinsMaking Moros: Imperial Historicism and American Military Rule in the Philippines’ Muslim South

December 12, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Islamic Studies] For many Muslim communities particular religious identities were formulated or hardened within colonial realities. These types of cultural encounters were structural for the various Muslim tribes in the southern Philippine islands of Mindanao and Sulu during the turn of the twentieth century. In Making Moros: Imperial Historicism and American Military […]

Read the full article →

Dan SlaterOrdering Power: Contentious Politics and Authoritarian Leviathans in Southeast Asia

November 14, 2014

Few books on Southeast Asia cover as much geographic, historical and theoretical ground as Dan Slater’s Ordering Power: Contentious Politics and Authoritarian Leviathans in Southeast Asia (Cambridge University Press, 2010). Working across seven case studies, the book argues that existing theories of institutionalization don’t account for regional variation in regime type. Tracing causal processes from […]

Read the full article →

Denise CruzTranspacific Femininities: The Making of the Modern Filipina

November 4, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Asian American Studies] Denise Cruz‘s Transpacific Femininities: The Making of the Modern Filipina (Duke University Press, 2012) traces representations of Filipinas in literature and popular culture during periods of transitional power in the Philippines, from the transition from Spanish to American colonial power, then to Japanese Imperialism, then to independence and the Cold War, and […]

Read the full article →

Thierry CruvellierThe Master of Confessions: The Making of a Khmer Rouge Torturer

October 31, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Genocide Studies] What is justice for a man who supervised the interrogation and killing of thousands?  Especially a man who now claims to be a Christian and to be, at least in some ways and cases, repentant for his crimes? Thierry Cruvellier has written a fascinating book about the trial of ‘Duch’ the […]

Read the full article →

Lynette J. ChuaMobilizing Gay Singapore: Rights and Resistance in an Authoritarian State

October 15, 2014

Singapore has a well-deserved reputation as a state that stifles dissent and polices activism. But as Lynette Chua shows in Mobilizing Gay Singapore: Rights and Resistance in an Authoritarian State (Temple University Press, 2014), repressive government nowhere goes unchallenged, even if the forms that resistance takes are not manifest. Turning away from social movement theory […]

Read the full article →

Tyrell HaberkornRevolution Interrupted: Farmers, Students, Law and Violence in Northern Thailand

September 13, 2014

In a foreword to Tyrell Haberkorn’s first book, Revolution Interrupted: Farmers, Students, Law and Violence in Northern Thailand (Wisconsin University Press, 2011), Thongchai Winichakul observes, “Haberkorn writes to prevent the fading of life to oblivion, recounting stories that bring the forgotten back to life.” She does this and more. By recalling the forgotten story of […]

Read the full article →