Toward a Social History of Bangkok

Toward a Social History of Bangkok

by Scot Barme
     
 

During the early decades of the twentieth century, Thailand's capital, Bangkok, took on an increasingly cosmopolitan character-a development fueled both by global economic forces and a local revolution in communications. The 1920s were a particularly dynamic period of social and cultural transformation that had a profound impact on the development of Thai modernity

Overview

During the early decades of the twentieth century, Thailand's capital, Bangkok, took on an increasingly cosmopolitan character-a development fueled both by global economic forces and a local revolution in communications. The 1920s were a particularly dynamic period of social and cultural transformation that had a profound impact on the development of Thai modernity. This book examines the growth of a polyphonous and often vociferous Thai public, a public that used a range of new media outlets to express themselves and clamor for a more just and equitable social order. Scot Barmé mines a rich lode of previously ignored cultural ephemera found in popular newspapers, magazines, novels, short stories, film booklets, and cartoons to create a vibrant cultural history of early modern Thailand that moves beyond conventional, elite-based historical studies of the period. By focusing on such controversies and conflicts as the status of women, relations between the sexes, class antagonisms, and the growth of a commercial mass culture, this book offers a new interpretation of the key decade of the 1920s and its significance for contemporary Thailand.

Editorial Reviews

Journal of Asian Studies
Woman, Man, Bangkok is an important contribution to an understanding of the intersections of gender, class, sexuality, and nationlism and analytically situates this intersection within an important phase in Thailand's history.
Journal Of Southeast Asian Studies - Tamara Loos
Unlike any other English or Thai language history, Barmé’s study puts you on the ground in the always scintillating and often over-stimulating Bangkok, a city characterized by moral and economic extremes as early as the 1910s. His book offers the first urban social history of Bangkok that also chronicles the formation of Siam’s burgeoning middle class and its ideological stances. The sheer amount of detail Barmé gleaned from Thai-language newspapers, political cartoons, magazines, film booklets, novels, short stories, and other documentation, make his book a cornucopia of the quotidian. Barmé performs a monumental task. He “peoples” Siam, bringing it to life with a vibrancy and immediacy by parading before us the issues and images that roused the population of early 20th century Bangkok.

Tamara Loos

Chris Baker
Truly path-breaking. Men still expect to dominate lots of women, while women are expected to be passive and pure. That's why 1920s Bangkok and its gender debates still seem so familiar. Great book.
Kevin Hewison
Scot Barme's study of Bangkok is pathbreaking. By focusing on cinema, the press, cartoons, gender, and sexuality a century ago, he produces an original and fascinating picture of social and political change. There is no comparable work on Thailand's social history. No historian will want to ignore his story or his methods. No one will read this book and not have their image of Bangkok and Thailand changed.
Journal Of Southeast Asian Studies
Barmé performs a monumental task. He “peoples” Siam, bringing it to life with a vibrancy and immediacy by parading before us the issues and images that roused the population of early 20th century Bangkok.
American Historical Review
[A] fresh look at the last decades of absolutist rule....Barme's [be sure to get accent in] prose is very accessible, and with its attractive graphics, this paperback version will be a useful addition to courses on modern Southeast Asia.
Journal Of Asian Studies
Woman, Man, Bangkok is an important contribution to an understanding of the intersections of gender, class, sexuality, and nationlism and analytically situates this intersection within an important phase in Thailand's history.
Booknews
A historical exploration of the developments of gender relations in Thailand in the 1920s and 1930s. Barm<'e> (Pacific and Asian history, Australian National U.) focuses on the capital city of Bangkok as new social meanings were articulated and consumed through the popular media. Separate chapters look at the emergence of a "protofeminist discourse" in women's magazines; the changing gender relations of the rising middle class; popular press debates related to female education and employment, polygamy, and prostitution; new middle class notions of sexual morality and propriety; and cinematic representations of contemporary womanhood. A final chapter explores a range of developments following the overthrow of the absolute monarchy. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780742501560
Publisher:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
05/28/2002
Series:
Asia/Pacific/Perspectives Series
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
6.12(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.88(d)

Meet the Author

Scot Barmé is visiting fellow in the Division of Pacific and Asian History, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, at The Australian National University.

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