MAINLAND SOUTHEAST ASIA STUDY GROUP – The Crown and the Capitalists: The Ethnic Chinese and the Founding of the Thai Nation by Assoc Prof Wasana Wongsurawat

Jointly organized by Department of Chinese Studies, Asia Research Institute, and Department of Southeast Asian Studies, National University of Singapore.

Date : 29 Jan 2020
Time : 10:00 – 12:00
Venue : AS8 Level 4, Seminar Room 04-04
10 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119260
National University of Singapore @ KRC


Siam, as it was known prior to 1939, was not colonized by imperialists powers in the late-19th to early-20th century. Through the Second World War the kingdom entered into formal alliance with Japan, and yet, was not defeated when Japan surrendered at the conclusion of the war. Throughout the Cold War, Thailand was the only mainland Southeast Asian country to not be overrun by socialist forces. Perhaps most importantly, Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia where the descendants of the same royalist political elite of the 19th century managed to maintain political dominance almost uninterrupted through much of the 20th century and up to present day. The secret behind this enduring hegemony is the monarchy’s long standing alliance with the ethnic Chinese entrepreneurs and the ability of both parties committed to this alliance to negotiate, cooperate, compromise and manipulate external superpowers’ interference in the kingdom’s domestic and foreign affairs. The most important argument of this book is that Thailand’s royalist nationalism was invented so as to be able to include the ethnic Chinese entrepreneurs—especially ones who had been registered as colonial subjects and enjoyed extraterritorial rights in Siam—and their enormous wealth into the national project. The ethnic Chinese were NOT singled out as the national ‘other’ as Skinner and others had suggested. On the contrary, they were at the very foundation of the Thai nation and Thai royalist nationalist movement.


Wasana Wongsurawat is Associate Professor at the Department of History, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand. She teaches and researches in areas related to modern Chinese history, the history of China-Southeast Asian interaction and the Chinese Diaspora. Wasana has edited and contributed to two edited volumes; Dynamics of the Cold War in Asia: Ideology, Identity and Culture (Palgrave 2009) and Sites of Modernity: Asian Cities in the Transitory Moments of Trade, Colonialism and Nationalism (Springer 2016). The Crown and the Capitalists: The Ethnic Chinese and the Founding of the Thai Nation (UWP 2019) is her first monograph.


Admission is free. Register via this link here.