Revolution versus Counter-Revolution: The People’s Party and the Royalist(s) in Visual Dialogue

PhD defended at: 

Birkbeck, University of London

Author: 

Thanavi Chotpradit

Defended: 

2016

The People’s Party (Khana ratsadon) or the monarchy: which one is the true begetter of Thai democracy? The people or the King: who possesses sovereign power in Thailand? The thesis Revolution versus Counter-Revolution: The People’s Party and the Royalist(s) in Visual Dialogue explores these core questions of Thai politics through an examination of the dynamism of the People’s Party’s visual culture. Under a royalist hegemony, started in 1947, the People’s Party’s arts and cultural artefacts have been recast as foreign and tasteless. This thesis argues that this royalist accusation highlights the profound significance of the revolutionary visual culture. In fact the People’s Party’s memorials, monuments, architecture and artwork are deeply embedded within a struggle for political legitimisation. They are “sites of memory”, or lieux de mémoire, that take on a performative role in the rivalry between the two ideologies: constitutionalism/democracy and royalism. Between 1932 and 2010 through a series of political incidents they have undergone a series of transformations both in the way they are interpreted and the cultural memory associated with them. This thesis intends to unravel the complexity and web of associations between these cultural icons, political ideologies, class struggle and memory politics.

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