An Ambiguous Intimacy: <i>Farang</i> as Siamese Occidentalism

Pattana Kitiarsa

in The Ambiguous Allure of the West

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print May 2010 | ISBN: 9789622091214
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9789882207493 | DOI:
An Ambiguous Intimacy: Farang as Siamese Occidentalism

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This chapter examines the historical constructions of farang (Westerners) in Thai thought and outlines the influence of this notion on the historical project of the making and remaking of Thai national and cultural identities. It considers the etymological origins of the term farang and then traces its changing meanings through history, from the Ayutthaya period to the colonial era, and through the era of twentieth-century modernity to the contemporary period of globalization-induced postmodernity. The chapter also traces the emergence of farang as a privileged “Other” in the Thai imagination and the way that this notion became central to state-based projects of self-civilization and self-modernization. It also shows the historically intensifying forms of cultural intimacy between farang and Thai, such that it is now no longer possible to conceptualize Thai identity separately from farang.

Keywords: farang; Westerners; Thai; Ayutthaya period; colonial era; postmodernity; self-civilization; self-modernization; Thai identity

Chapter.  8785 words. 

Subjects: Asian History

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