Oct 22, 2016
Forced Cooperation with Western Modernity as Colonization in Thailand's Far
Dr. Kee Howe Yong
Thailand does possess a cooperative split personality as colonized and colonizer. During the European encounter, the kingdom relinquished some of its territories to France and Britain while it colonized other kingdoms and sultanates. This talk will focus on Thailand’s far south. Tamara Loos (2006) has argued that the establishment of Islamic courts in Thailand’s far south after it was colonized by Siam was one way of displaying the kingdom’s sensibilities towards minority customs, to showcase its form of colonial modernity to Britain. The speaker draws upon this literature, yet also seeks to move away from it in order to address an important feature of modern nation-states. If Western modernity was assumed to be the telos of diverse forms of legal activities in Southeast Asia, did the establishment of Islamic courts reflected Siam’s sensibilities towards minority customs, or, did it, in fact, provided the pretext for generating narratives of uneasy coexistence between majority and minorities. In other words, the context for the constant exercise of state power that were driven perhaps to reenact periodically Thailand’s triumphalist and traumatic past as the only non-colonized, but also the most cooperative country in Southeast Asia?
About the Speaker
Kee Yong, an associate Professor at the Department of Anthropology, McMaster University, is the author The Hakkas of Sarawak: Sacrificial Gifts in Cold War Era Malaysia (University of Toronto Press). His current project is concerned with the ways in which regimes of fear affect the way the minorities relate to one another and to those in authority – in this case how Muslimness in southern Thailand are produced, under what constraints and structures, and by what technologies of affect and force. The research is part of a larger project on separatist movements seeking national liberation in different (and yet similar) geopolitical settings.
About the Moderator
Travis Kroeker, Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at McMaster University, is the author of Christian Ethics and Political Economy in North America (McGill-Queen’s University Press), and co-author (with Bruce Ward) of Remembering the End: Dostoevsky as Prophet to Modernity (Westview). He teaches in the areas of religion, ethics and politics. Kroeker’s current research interests include apocalyptic literature and political theology, and the intellectual and cultural premises underlying the growing dominance of the technological paradigm in modern and postmodern societies. He is currently completing two book projects: Messianic Political Theology and Diaspora Ethics (in press, Cascade) and Literary Apocalypse as Political Theology.