Thai Conservatives’ Intellectual Vacuum

My piece for Thai Enquirer this week:

One of the most commonly cited statistics in Thailand is that the average Thai reads around eight sentences — yes, sentences — of books in a year. Where this dubious number was sourced is unclear, and its veracity is highly questionable.

But even if it were true in the past, 2020 has likely changed this. Books are now flying off the shelves. And specific kinds of books, too: those pertaining to history, political science, and philosophy. Many of them are from the progressive publisher, Same Sky Books. Their titles include a new book by Nattapon Jaijing on Thai politics during the early Cold War and its relationship with the United States, a book by the same author on the 1932 revolution, and one by Tongchai Winichakul on the Thammasat University massacre.

“Berk net” books is now the popular term for this genre: “eye opening.” And bookstores are not the only place they can be found. Google Drive folders filled with pirated PDFs are linked very commonly on Twitter. Included are a selection of banned books, long-ignored historical accounts, and academic studies — and they do not paint Thailand’s traditional institutions in the most flattering light.

Click here for the full piece.

(Cover image credits.)






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