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Amornpradubkul, Nattanee (2023) The Dynamics Of Cultural Symbolism As A Component Of Thai State Expansion In Three Frontiers Of Siam, C.1873-1910. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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The interactions of the modern Thai state, its notions of national identity and unity, with its frontiers are often treated as peripheral subjects in historical studies of late 19th century Siam and its state development. This thesis, however, examines how the cultural symbolism of a changing Siam, influenced by the experience of global imperial expansion, was adapted in a dynamic process of integrating three frontier zones during 1873-1910. It examines the similarities and differences within the process of Thai cultural extension into the northern, north-eastern and southern frontiers, and explores the local reactions these cultural and symbolic political activities provoked. It looks at two important cultural symbols – Kingship and Buddhism – as they became signifiers of Thai national culture as the central state tried to become a unifying force in frontiers. The thesis is divided into three main parts. The first part considers the broader framework of global transformation from the 1850s, and how Siam was influenced and participated in these changes, leading to its need to integrate frontiers into its territory. The second and third parts address the comparison in the methods and the dynamics of cultural symbolism as a component of Thai state expansion in the three predominantly non-Thai zones. The thesis considers the reactions evidenced in the attempted Malay rebellion, Holy Men rebellion and Shan rebellion, which all occurred in 1901-02. Thus, the thesis offers novel insights helping to support new understanding of how Thai national culture and its symbolism became an important but locally dynamic and differentiated component in integrating distinct frontier zones. Overall, the thesis demonstrates the dynamics of Thai national culture as a component of political change have been shaped and reshaped regarding internal and external pressures, enabling us to understand Thai state development beyond the narrow narrative of the central Thai state itself.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Michael Charney
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 07 Nov 2023 17:05

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