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Political Authority and Provincial Identity in Thailand: The Making of Banharn-buri (Hardback)
  • Political Authority and Provincial Identity in Thailand: The Making of Banharn-buri (Hardback)
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Political Authority and Provincial Identity in Thailand: The Making of Banharn-buri (Hardback)

(author)
£37.00
Hardback 280 Pages / Published: 17/03/2011
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The powerful Thai politician Banharn Silpa-archa has been disparaged as a corrupt operator who for years channeled excessive state funds into developing his own rural province. This book reinterprets Banharm's career and offers a detailed portrait of the voters who support him. Relying on extensive interviews, the author shows how Banharm's constituents have developed a strong provincial identity based on their pride in his advancement of their province, Suphanburi, which many now call "Banharm-buri," the place of Banharm. Yoshinori Nishizaki's analysis challenges simplistic perceptions of rural Thai voters and raises vital questions about contemporary democracy in Thailand.

Yoshinori Nishizaki's close and thorough examination of the numerous public construction projects sponsored and even personally funded by Banharn clearly illustrates this politician's canny abilities and tireless, meticulous oversight of his domain. Banharn's constituents are aware that Suphanburi was long considered a "backward" province by other Thais-notably the Bangkok elite. Suphanburians hold the neglectful central government responsible for their province's former sorry condition and humiliating reputation. Banharn has successfully identified himself as the antithesis to the inefficient central state by promoting rapid "development" and advertising his own role in that development through well-publicized donations, public ceremonies, and visits to the sites of new buildings and highways.

Much standard literature on rural politics and society in Thailand and other democratizing countries in Southeast Asia would categorize this politician as a typical "strongman," the boss of a semiviolent patronage network that squeezes votes out of the people. That standard analysis would utterly fail to recognize and understand the grassroots realities of Suphanburi that Nishizaki has captured in his study. This compassionate, well-grounded analysis challenges simplistic perceptions of rural Thai voters and raises vital questions about contemporary democracy in Thailand.

Publisher: Cornell University Press
ISBN: 9780877277835
Number of pages: 280
Weight: 652 g
Dimensions: 254 x 178 x 24 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

"Here is the story of Banharm Silpa-archa, the former PM and arch-electocrat of Thai politics, told by a scholar whose extensive field research and critical sympathy have enabled him to capture the complexity of Banharn's talents and enduring reign. As Nishizaki demonstrates, Banharn's success in the province of Suphanburi (a.k.a. Banharn-buri) was not built on a sleazy mix of guns, goons, and gold, but constructed through careful cultivation of a proud provincial identity and the targeted reallocation of state resources. This study by a political anthropologist attuned to the voices of Banharn's rural constituents challenges all facile put-downs of Thai provincial voters as duped country bumpkins and charts a new direction for Thai political analysis."

-- Kasian Tejapira, Thammasat University, author of Commodifying Marxism: The Formation of Modern Thai Radical Culture, 1927-1958

"Written by a born story teller with an ear for telling quotations and an eye for the foibles of human nature, this book brings to life Banharn Silpa-archa, one of Thailand's most successful and formidable politicians.... How do rulers win their subjects' obedience, asks Nishizaki? People willingly, sometimes eagerly follow a ruler who enhances their collective pride. This [is a] rich study, provocative in its claims and compelling in its arguments."

-- Craig J. Reynolds, Australian National University

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