The Thawiphop Phenomenon: Reimagining Nationalism in a Contemporary Thai Novel and Its Stage and Screen Adaptations

Chapter

Abstract

This chapter offers an analysis of the novel Thawiphop (Parallel Worlds) by Thai author Tamayanti and its reception in Thai society. First published in 1986, Thawiphop has gained wide popularity both in print and in various screen and stage adaptations. The success of the novel – the Thawiphop phenomenon – reveals the interconnection between nationalism and the entertainment industry in contemporary Thailand. This chapter suggests that Thawiphop takes Lewis’s legendary books Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass as its inspiration and argues that Thawiphop becomes a mirror of efforts by the Thai middle class to appropriate nationalism – and hence a claim to political power – by reimagining the history of the late nineteenth-century Siam/Thailand. The novel continues a literary tradition that was pioneered by Kukrit Pramoj’s novel Four Reigns (1953) and combines love stories with historical narratives of the Bangkok period seen through the eyes of women. Most Thawiphop versions do not center their fantasized pasts on the king. Instead, they create a female protagonist who travels to the past to shape the nation’s destiny and who has no desire to return to the present world. The Thawiphop phenomenon thus shows that the identity of the middle class and their nostalgia for the past are connected through the construction of gender roles, in particular, through the theme of “mothering the nation” and through the interpretation of the Franco-Siamese conflict of 1893.

Keywords

Middle Class National Unity Master Narrative Parallel World Official Version 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgment

I wish to thank Claus K. Meyer for his comments and our discussions on this essay.

References

  1. Aeusrivongse, N. (1993). The cult of King Rama V [Lathi sadet pho ro 5]. Bangkok: Matichon.Google Scholar
  2. Baker, C. J., & Phongpaichit, P. (2002). Thailand, economy and politics. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bhabha, H. K. (Ed.). (1990). Nation and narration. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  4. Brown, S. (1999). Retro-marketing: Yesterday’s tomorrows, today! Marketing Intelligence & Planning, 17(7), 363–376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Carroll, L. (2006). Alice’s adventures in wonderland and through the looking glass. New York: Grosset & Dunlap.Google Scholar
  6. Chachavalpongpun, P. (2012). Embedding embittered history: Unending conflicts in Thai-Cambodian relations. Asian Affairs, 43(1), 81–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chaloemtiarana, T. (2007). Thailand: The politics of despotic paternalism. Chiang Mai: Silkworm Books.Google Scholar
  8. Chaochuti, T. (2009). Thawiphop and the narcissism of Maneejan [Thawiphop kap khwam long tua eng khong maneejan]. Aan, 2(2), 152–158.Google Scholar
  9. Chaochuti, T. (2012). In the name of the mother(land): Nationalism, psychoanalysis, Thawiphop. [Nainam khong phandin Mae: Chatiyom, Jitwikraw, Thawiphop]. Rattasatsan, 33(1), 109–137.Google Scholar
  10. Harrison, R. (2010). Mind the gap: [En]countering the west and the making of Thai identities on film. In R. Harrison & P. A. Jackson (Eds.), The ambiguous allure of the West: Traces of the colonial in Thailand (pp. 93–118). Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, Cornell University Southeast Asia Program Publications.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Holdsworth, N. (2010). Theatre & nation. Basingstoke/England: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  12. Inglis, D. (2005). Culture and everyday life. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  13. Jiratikorn, A. (2003). Suriyothai: Hybridizing Thai national identity through film. Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, 4(2), 296–308.Google Scholar
  14. Kantorowicz, E. H. (1997). The king’s two bodies: A study in mediaeval political theology. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Kasetsiri, C. (2012). Imagined Thai historiography and historical maps from 1930s to the present [Jintakam Prawatisat thai kap phanthee “sia dindan” jak tossawat 2470 thueng 2554]. In C. Kasetsiri (Ed.), Collected maps: History-geography-politics and colonialism in Southeast Asia [pramuan phanthee: prawatisat-phumisat-garnmuang kap lhathi aananikhom nai asean-usakhane] (pp. 333–373). Bangkok: Foundation for Promotion of Social Sciences and Humanities Textbook Project.Google Scholar
  16. Lam, M. B. (2012). The postcolonial condition of “Indochinese” cinema from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. In S. Ponzanesi & M. Waller (Eds.), Postcolonial cinema studies (pp. 107–142). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  17. López Ricardo, A., & Weinstein, B. (Eds.). (2012). The making of the middle class: Toward a transnational history. Durham: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Matichon. August 13, 1985, p. 1.Google Scholar
  19. Matichon. February 2, 1986, p. 7.Google Scholar
  20. Matichon. October 19, 1986, p. 7.Google Scholar
  21. Meyer, M. J. (2007). The rejected EU’s proposal of an election observation mission: A critique of Thai propaganda and policy. Journal of History (1), Article 8. Retrieved March 3, 2012, from: http://ejournals.swu.ac.th/index.php/JOH/article/view/1257/1265
  22. Praklang (Hon). (1973). Samkok. Bangkok: Bannakan.Google Scholar
  23. Pramoj, K. (2007). Four reigns (Tulachandra, Trans.). Chiangmai: Silkworm Books.Google Scholar
  24. Peleggi, M. (2002). The politics of ruins and the business of nostalgia. Bangkok: White Lotus.Google Scholar
  25. Rungswasdisab, P. (2011). Thailands response to the Cambodian genocide. Cambodian Genocide Program, Yale University. Retrieved April 10, 2012, from: http://www.yale.edu/cgp/thailand_response.html
  26. Schlesinger, P. (2000). The sociological scope of national cinema. In M. Hjort & S. Mackenzie (Eds.), Cinema & nation (pp. 19–31). London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  27. Schulte, R. (Ed.). (2006). The body of the queen: Gender and rule in the courtly world, 1500–2000. New York: Berghahn Books.Google Scholar
  28. Siriphaiboon, W. (2008). Thawiphop (13th ed., 2 Vol.). Bangkok: Na Banwannakam.Google Scholar
  29. Siriyuvasak, U. (1998). The economic and political structures of Thai radio and TV system & their consequences for right and freedom [Krong sang thang sethakitkarnmunag khong rabob wittayu lae thorathat thai lae phon kratob to sithi lae seri phap]. Bangkok: Faculty of Communication Arts, Chulalongkorn University.Google Scholar
  30. Smith, A. D. (2000). Images of the nation: Cinema, art and national identity. In M. Hjort & S. Mackenzie (Eds.), Cinema & nation (pp. 45–59). London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  31. Story, J. (2010). Culture and power in cultural studies: The politics of significance. Edinburg: Edinburg University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Thompson, E. P. (1968). The making of English working class. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  33. Winichakul, T. (1994). Siam mapped: History of the geo-body of a nation. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.Google Scholar
  34. Winichakul, T. (2001). Suriyothai: A national history of an ideal woman [Suriyothai prawatsart heang chat chabab nang keaw]. Silpawattanatham, 22(12), 55–57.Google Scholar
  35. Winichakul, T. (2011). Siam colonial conditions and the birth of Thai history. In V. Grabowsky (Ed.), Southeast Asian historiography unravelling the myth: Essays in honour of Barend Jan Terwiel (pp. 20–41). Bangkok: River Books.Google Scholar
  36. Wyatt, D. K. (2003). Thailand a short history (2nd ed.). Bangkok/Chiang Mai: Silkworm Books.Google Scholar
  37. Wyatt, D. K. (Ed.). (2006). The royal chronicles of Ayutthaya (R. Cushman, Trans.). Bangkok: The Siam Society under the Royal Patronage.Google Scholar

Adaptations of Thawiphop

  1. Thawiphop. (1990). Dir. Cherd Songsri. Cherdchai Films.Google Scholar
  2. Thawiphop. (1994). Dir. Charoon Thammasin. Dara Video.Google Scholar
  3. The Siam Renaissance. (2004). Dir. Surapong Pinijkhar. Film Bangkok.Google Scholar
  4. Thawiphop the musical. (2005). Dir. Takolkiet Weerawan. Scenario.Google Scholar
  5. Thawiphop the musical. (2011). Dir. Takolkiet Weerawan. Scenario.Google Scholar
  6. Thawiphop. (2011). Dir. Mawin Deangnoi and Penlak Udomsin. Dara Video.Google Scholar

Filmography

  1. The legend of Suriyothai. (2001). Dir. Prince Chatichalerm Yukol. Prommitr Production Co., Ltd.Google Scholar
  2. The legend of King Naresuan: Hostage of Hongsawadi. (2007). Dir. Prince Chatichalerm Yukol. Prommitr Production Co., Ltd.Google Scholar
  3. The legend of King Naresuan: Proclaiming independence. (2007). Dir. Prince Chatichalerm Yukol. Prommitr Production Co., Ltd.Google Scholar
  4. The Legend of King Naresuan: The naval battle. (2011). Dir. Prince Chatichalerm Yukol. Prommitr Production Co., Ltd.Google Scholar
  5. The Legend of King Naresuan: The battle against Nanda Bayin. (2011). Dir. Prince Chatichalerm Yukol. Prommitr Production Co., Ltd.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Pridi Banomyong International CollegeThammasat University (Tha Prachan Campus)Pranakorn, BangkokThailand

Personalised recommendations