Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Saying The Unsayable

Saying The Unsayable
Saying The Unsayable, edited by Soren Ivarsson and Lotte Isager, is a fascinating collection of academic papers discussing the political role of the constitutional monarchy. The book's subtitle, Monarchy & Democracy In Thailand, arguably requires inverted commas around one word: 'democracy' is an ambiguous concept in Thailand, as Kevin Hewison and Kengkij Kitirianglarp recognise in their chapter on Thai-Style Democracy and "the events that paved the way for the military's seizure of power".

Peter A Jackson begins the book with a chapter titled Virtual Divinity, noting that "Bhumibol has become enveloped by a symbolism and discourse of magico-divinity". Implicit in the media's spiritual and supernatural descriptions of the King, and in the ubiquitous public reproduction of his image, is the notion that the King should therefore be unconditionally venerated. (Indeed, article eight of the constitution states that "The King shall be enthroned in a position of revered worship".)

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