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The Good Men of Suan Kulap
An Ethnographic Genealogy of an Elite Thai School and the Making of Political Subjects

WHITEHOUSE, DANIEL,RODGER (2022) The Good Men of Suan Kulap
An Ethnographic Genealogy of an Elite Thai School and the Making of Political Subjects.
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis is concerned with the institutional culture of Suan Kulap Withayalai, Thailand’s oldest state-run secondary school and the alma mater of seven prime ministers. Using the critical theory of genealogy combined with methodologies common to ethnography, it traces the gradual development of the school’s symbolic and disciplinary infrastructure through time. In addition, it also provides a descriptive analysis of the school’s ritual events and ideological projects during the 2018/9 academic year. Using a range of sources, including historical documents, personal writings, life histories, and participant observation, the thesis explores how the school has been deeply implicated in the maintenance of power in Thailand and how it has sought to produce certain kinds of political subjects favourable to the interest of a shifting centre. It positions Suan Kulap as an overlooked institution in the scholarship of Thailand’s political culture. The thesis also augments and challenges the current literature pertaining to Thai education, which relies heavily on the study of pedagogic materials and has tended to characterise students as submissive recipients of the state’s ideological messaging. Highlighting the writings and words of those who worked and studied at the school, the thesis creates an alternative narrative of crypto-colonial innovation and sporadic conflict that is assiduously suppressed by the school administration. At a time when Thai high school students are protesting en masse against what they see as an authoritarian educational system, this thesis provides a historically informed ethnography of the practices that Thai schools engage in to maintain political stasis. More generally, the thesis is an intimate portrait of an institution deeply implicated, and reflective of, the ideological struggles and psychosocial movements that have shaped recent Thai history.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Anthropology Thailand Education Punishment Riutal Elite History Poltical Networks Pedagogy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Anthropology, Department of
Thesis Date:2022
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:09 Nov 2022 14:45

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