What is national cultural identity? How does such identity affect other plausible kinds of identities i.e., gender? Is there authentic Thai identity? These questions are what interest me and are part of my thesis entitled "Transcultural Identity of Thai Femininity (1960s-present)". By using critical theory perspective, I set out to examine Siam/Thailand diachronically from the dawn of modernization in mid nineteenth century, the period of which the encounter of the West was argued to leave long established impact on the national identity and the nation building. In response, Siam reacted to such encounter by hybridizing with Western Others culturally and against their presence and superiority. This particular encounter manifests itself in the visual form of historical Siam map, which has the ability to interpellate various kinds of ideologies from its people. Nevertheless, the attempt to modernize the kingdom does not halt then, the same ideology prolonged until the militaristic regime in the twentieth century. To be recognized by the West has always been the true motive for such quest for progressivity and the conquest of Thai beauty pageant in 1965 actualized the face of the country. How, then, can we perceive authenticity in national identity when Siam/Thailand seems to be positioned within the complicated relationship with both real and imagined Other(s) since its historicity. What is the purpose of re-presenting this uniqueness and how has gender identity been impressed by it? Has such authenticity ever existed given that identity seems to be a product of transculturation process all along?
Porranee Singpliam, Waseda University, Japan
Stream: Cultural Studies
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