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Absolute monarchy and the legal state in Thailand

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The modern legal system in Thailand was established in the early twentieth century not as much to save the country from colonialism as to secure the absolutist power of Bangkok’s rulers. It was not the Rule of Law, but a legal system intended to privilege the state, especially for the sake of its security. As the semi-absolute monarchy has been ascending in Thailand today, Thai jurisprudence has shown its true colors.

Thongchai Winichakul is Emeritus Professor of History at University of Wisconsin-Madison and Research Fellow Emeritus at Institute of Developing Economies (IDE-JETRO), Japan. He is the author of Siam Mapped (1994) and Moments of Silence: The Unforgetting of the October 6, 1976, Massacre in Bangkok (2020), and has published eight books in Thai. He received the John Simon Guggenheim Award in 1994, was inducted to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2003. He was also President of the Association for Asian Studies in 2013/14. His research interests are in the intellectual foundations of modern Siam under colonial conditions. He is also a critic of Thai political and social issues.

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