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In Session: Thailand Studies in Labor, Religion, and Migration
Capitalist Restructuring, Development, and Sociocultural Precarity in Bangkok, Thailand
Friday, March 26, 2021
12:00pm – 1:30pm EDT
Georgia Gwinnett College, United States
University of Georgia, United States
This paper seeks to examine the ways in which national crises in Thailand (such as the Asian Financial Crisis, the Global Financial Crisis, or ongoing political divisions and constitutional crises) have reshaped imaginaries of development. By reading these periods as disruptive sociopolitical and economic events, coupled with reconfigurations of the social world and notions of collective responsibility, this paper analyzes how development (gaan pattanaa) as a normative, guiding concept has changed over time. Specifically, we are interested in how changes within the country’s political economy and imaginaries of development highlight a central tension: the ways capitalist markets assess and alter people’s economic value. Central questions become: how has development been redefined and reconceptualized to justify changes perceived as necessary to compete in regional and global economies and shield the nation from future downturns? How has national restructuring reconfigured the social world and notions of collective responsibility? And how have these changes created new sociocultural landscapes for individuals and working classes to navigate? Ultimately, we hope to explore how gaan pattanaa functions as idealized and realized systems of value that provides guidance in one’s orientation to the effects of national restructuring and in one’s connections to others.