Saying the Unsayable

Monarchy and Democracy in Thailand

Edited by Søren Ivarsson and Lotte Isager

Available from NIAS Press worldwide
ISBN Hardback: 978-87-7694-071-3, £50.00
ISBN Paperback: 978-87-7694-072-0, £16.99
  • A unique, multidisciplinary discussion of the cultural, historical, political, religious and legal forces that formed the Thai monarchy.
  • Essential reading for anyone interested in Thai politics and culture.
  • Of interest to a broad readership, also outside academia.

The Thai monarchy today is usually presented as both guardian of tradition and the institution to bring modernity and progress to the Thai people. It is moreover seen as protector of the nation. Scrutinizing that image, this volume reviews the fascinating history of the modern monarchy. It also analyses important cultural, historical, political, religious, and legal forces shaping the popular image of the monarchy and, in particular, of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

In this manner, the book offers valuable insights into the relationships between monarchy, religion and democracy in Thailand – topics that, after the September 2006 coup d’état, gained renewed national and international interest. By addressing such contentious issues as Thai-style democracy, lése majesté legislation, religious symbolism and politics, monarchical traditions, and the royal sufficiency economy, this volume will be of interest to a broad spectrum of academics, journalists and other interested readers outside academia.

author image not supplied











Søren Ivarsson is an associate professor in the Department of History, University of Copenhagen. Well versed in the histories of Laos and Thailand, he is particularly interested in nationalism, state formation and historiography in these countries. His monograph, Creating Laos, was published by NIAS Press in 2008 and has attracted much acclaim.

Go to author page

by Jim Glassman, University of British Columbia, Canada
From journal:
Pacific Affairs, Vol. 85, No. 3, Sept. 2012

 "…the timeliness of Saying the Unsayable cannot be overstated.

 "…the timeliness of Saying the Unsayable cannot be overstated. Søren Ivarsson and Lotte Isager, starting from a panel at the 2008 International Thai Studies Conference, have pulled together a series of important papers that critically examine not only the use of lèsemajesté law in Thailand but the cultural, legal, political, economic and ideological context in which speech about the monarchy is proscribed- and struggles over it conducted.

(…)I would be loath to criticize very much in this courageous scholarly effort.

(…)…an important book that should be read by anyone wishing to understand current political realities in Thailand."

by Professor Thongchai Winichakul, University of Wisconsin-Madison
From journal:
South East Asia Research, Vol. 20, No. 3, Sept. 2012

 "The book takes an exciting step, crossing the line into a once forbidden zone, to address various topics that, as the title suggests, are considered ‘unsayable’ in Thailand."

 "The book takes an exciting step, crossing the line into a once forbidden zone, to address various topics that, as the title suggests, are considered ‘unsayable’ in Thailand."

by Richard Ruth, United States Naval Academy
From journal:
New Mandala: New perspectives on mainland Southeast Asia

 "These essays are valuable guides to all scholars of Thailand trying to make sense of changing ontological landscapes as they are transformed – for better or for worse – before our eyes.

 "These essays are valuable guides to all scholars of Thailand trying to make sense of changing ontological landscapes as they are transformed – for better or for worse – before our eyes.  It is difficult to gaze at a royal billboard on Thanon Ratchawithi or a hastily scrawled anti- Article 122 graffito on a nearby road without considering the rich and sophisticated analyses in these strong essays.  And for that reason, I would recommend this engaging volume as required reading for all scholars working in Thai studies."

by Michael K. Connors, La Trobe University
From journal:
Journal of Contemporary Asia, Vol. 41, No. 4, 2011

"The contributors offer engaging reflections and critique. … Saying the Unsayable is a pioneering scholarly work."

"The contributors offer engaging reflections and critique. … Saying the Unsayable is a pioneering scholarly work."

by Patrick Jory (University of Queensland)
From journal:
Contemporary Southeast Asia, vol. 33, no. 1 (2011)

Saying the Unsayable: Monarchy and Democracy in Thailand, edited by Soren Ivarsson and Lotte Isager, is the first edited volume of essays in English devoted entirely to critically examining Thailand’s monarchy and the problem it poses to democratisation. … Given the dearth of critical scholarship on the monarchy there is much in the volume that will interest readers.

Saying the Unsayable: Monarchy and Democracy in Thailand, edited by Soren Ivarsson and Lotte Isager, is the first edited volume of essays in English devoted entirely to critically examining Thailand’s monarchy and the problem it poses to democratisation. … Given the dearth of critical scholarship on the monarchy there is much in the volume that will interest readers.

by Chris Baker
From journal:
Bangkok Post, 13 December 2010

 Half way through this book, one of the contributors asks, "Is Thailand primarily a democracy protected by a constitution that guarantees rights, or is primarily a monarchy with authoritarian structures that prevent democratisation?" Not so long ago, such a question was unimaginable. … The eleven contributors to this book of essays include seven foreigners and four Thais.

 Half way through this book, one of the contributors asks, "Is Thailand primarily a democracy protected by a constitution that guarantees rights, or is primarily a monarchy with authoritarian structures that prevent democratisation?" Not so long ago, such a question was unimaginable. … The eleven contributors to this book of essays include seven foreigners and four Thais. Two of the Thais have elected to use a nom de plume. Yet this is a careful book which has nothing personal or strident, no whiff of revolt. The nine essays and the deft summary in the introduction present analyses of the meaning of the Thai monarchy in the present and the recent past. … As the editors note in the Introduction, a monarchy like any other institution is constantly being made and remade. The immense changes over the present reign make that abundantly clear. This book is a valuable contribution to a growing literature that helps to make this institution and its complex dynamics more understandable.

Ordering information

Close Menu
×
×

Cart