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Fiction and social consciousness in interwar Siam: Thai elite culture in crisis and transition

Subrahmanyan, A. (2015) Fiction and social consciousness in interwar Siam: Thai elite culture in crisis and transition. South East Asia Research, 23 (4). pp. 567-580.

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This article examines representations of Thai society in fiction during the 1920s and 1930s. Initially the hobby of palace writers and readers, by the 1930s the evolving form had come to be widely popular with middle-class commoners. The rise of middle-class society was of profound importance in the interwar period: far beyond constituting a new reading and writing public, social and economic change undermined the political power of the old elite, and in 1932 a bureaucratic coup toppled the absolute monarchy. But the 'revolution', as it came to be known, was incomplete; the growth of new social classes and democratic ideas did not produce a new society. Nor, as this article demonstrates, did it destroy the cultural power of the old elite. The royal–aristocratic class remained cultural icons, and this is clearly shown in the new genre of realistic fiction that appeared. Royalist culture, an enduring aspect of twentieth century Thai history, maintained its power through a period of crisis largely because of its adaptation to changed circumstances.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Arts
Publisher: IP Publishing Ltd
Copyright: © 2015 Publishing Technology
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