Subject Siam: Family, Law, and Colonial Modernity in Thailand

Subject Siam: Family, Law, and Colonial Modernity in Thailand

by Tamara Loos

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Unlike its Southeast Asian neighbors, Thailand was never colonized by an imperial power. However, Siam (as Thailand was called until 1939) shared a great deal in common with both colonized states and imperial powers: its sovereignty was qualified by imperial nations while domestically its leaders pursued European colonial strategies of juridical control in the Muslim south. The creation of family law and courts in that region and in Siam proper most clearly manifests Siam's dualistic position.

Demonstrating the centrality of gender relations, law, and Siam's Malay Muslims to the history of modern Thailand, Subject Siam examines the structures and social history of jurisprudence to gain insight into Siam's unique position within Southeast Asian history. Tamara Loos elaborates on the processes of modernity through an in-depth study of hundreds of court cases involving polygyny, marriage, divorce, rape, and inheritance adjudicated between the 1850s and 1930s. Most important, this study of Siam offers a novel approach to the question of modernity precisely because Siam was not colonized yet was subject to transnational discourses and symbols of modernity. In Siam, Loos finds, the language of modernity was not associated with a foreign, colonial overlord, so it could be deployed both by elites who favored continuation of existing domestic hierarchies and by those advocating political and social change.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501728259
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Publication date: 07/05/2018
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 240
File size: 22 MB
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Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Tamara Loos is Associate Professor of History at Cornell University.

What People are Saying About This

Thongchai Winichakul

"This book breaks new ground in the field of Thai history. The close links between the creation of modern legal codes and institutions and the drastic changes in the discourses on gender and family are previously unexplored and unexpected. Tamara Loos demonstrates the idea of an alternative modernity that is clearly gendered. The condition under which these changes took place—the 'semi-imperial, semi-colonial' Siamese state—is a fascinating one."

Michael G. Peletz

"Subject Siam is a deeply engaging and exceedingly well-written book that provides highly original, interdisciplinary perspectives on Thailand. Tamara Loos successfully changes conventional wisdom concerning Thailand's historical trajectory and overall social location on the world stage since the mid-to-late nineteenth century. She combines a rigorous and innovative reanalysis of the role of the monarchy in navigating the shoals of European colonialism with a fresh look at the 'family laws' and legal regimes that were negotiated both for the country's Buddhist majority and for the Muslim minorities in the southern provinces. There isn't another book like it. Subject Siam is a great tribute to the author's scholarly acumen."

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