Mnemonic hegemony, spatial hierarchy and Thailand's official commemoration of the Second World War

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    Commemoration of the Second World War in Southeast Asia varies significantly, from countries that have chosen to use the memory of Japanese occupation as a means of strengthening national unity, to those that pay little attention because doing so would distract from their own independence struggle. Thailand is one of those countries that downplays its official memory of the Second World War. This article investigates why, given that the Second World War saw significant loss of life and damage to Thai sovereignty, as well as acts of heroism, it occupies a marginal position in Thailand's public memory. While Second World War history is not suppressed in history textbooks, Thailand's Second World War monuments and commemorative ceremonies are either dispersed or disguised. To explain why this is the case, I examine firstly sensitivity to foreign perceptions, and secondly domestic politics in the aftermath of the Second World War. I argue that domestic politics offers a more convincing explanation, particularly with regard to the relatively obscure place of the Seri Thai resistance movement. Using the concept of mnemonic hegemony, and through analysis of the spatial distribution of Second World War monuments, I argue that Thailand's Second World War history remains challenging and uncomfortable for Thailand's dominant institutions, the monarchy and the military.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)176-193
    JournalSouth East Asia Research
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


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