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Monthienvichienchai, Apisake (2009) Thai nationalism and the Catholic experience, 1909-47. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25501/SOAS.00028932

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Abstract

This thesis examines the development of the Mission of Siam during the period 1909-47, when it was still being administered by the French missionary order, the Missions Etrangeres de Paris (M.E.P.). Under the leadership of Vicar-Apostolic Rene Perros, the Mission of Siam expanded its missionary efforts for the first time to the north of Thailand and strengthened its reputation and networks in local society through the construction, upgrade, and maintenance of social works such as clinics, hospitals, and schools. However, problems were also encountered. The Mission was badly affected by the economic depression of the 1930s, while some of its administrative practices, in particular the ceding of jurisdiction over the northeast of Thailand to the Mission of Laos, aggravated tensions between the missionaries, the government, and elements of the local community. The thesis also examines the concurrent development and effects of Thai nationalism during the period 1909-47 on the Mission of Siam. Concepts of Thai national identity underwent major transformations during this period, and its effects on the Church were unpredictable. As the first Pibul government geared itself to seize former Siamese territories from French Indochina, anti-French rhetoric reached its height. At the same time, the move to make Buddhism a sine qua non of Thai identity was made. Together, the two factors unleashed a wave of persecution on the Thai Catholic population from 1940-45. Yet, the inconsistencies of the persecution suggest that there was more at stake than just nationalist pride; ulterior local political and economic motives, along with pre-existing tensions between the Catholic and non-Catholic communities also played a part in prolonging the persecutions. For the Church, the persecution of the 1940s gave it eight martyrs and accelerated the handover of the Missions to the local clergy, thereby spelling the formal end of the Mission. Meanwhile, the state was left, once again, to grapple with what it meant to be a Thai and the consequences of a violated Constitution; consequences that echo, arguably, down to the present day.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): https://doi.org/10.25501/SOAS.00028932
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:04
URI: https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/28932

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