WORSHIPPING THE GREAT MODERNISERIRENE STENGS Book Number: 81970 Product format: Paperback
Sub-titled 'King Chulalongkorn, Patron Saint of the Thai Middle Class', the Dutch scholar explores what this ruler's unparalleled popularity says about modern society in Thailand today. The globalising urban culture associated with the economic boom of the 1980s and 1990s gave rise to an alienating anomaly. In the slipstream, an immense cult took shape around King Chulalongkorn the Great (r.1868-1910) that reworked the idea of Buddhist kingship, making it the pivot of the modern Thai social cosmos and creating a new foundation for Thai identity. Stengs argues that the exulted expectations are a product of the ambitions and anxieties of the country's expanding middle class and compares the popular image with that of the present king, the highly venerated King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The cult reached its zenith in the 1990s and our book gives insight into the people's anxieties, dreams and aspirations of the late 20th century up to the political turmoil surrounding the 2006 coup d'etat. Political core issues are touched upon such as redistribution of wealth, corruption, human rights and democracy beneath the surface slogan 'We love the king'. A fascinating insight into nationalism and material culture. 316pp in large softback, colour plates.
Published price: $35
Bibliophile price: £1.50