Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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p. vii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-xv

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xvii-18

I first visited Bangkok some 40 years ago. I recall it from that time as a green city, mostly two- and three-storeys, a skyline of trees, villas, small wooden houses and shophouses interrupted by the glory of gold and white prang — the temple spires — and a soft, civilised, unhurried place. Th e orange-robed monks were ubiquitous; so were American ...

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Prologue

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pp. xix-xxxi

At about 8.30 am on Wednesday 19 May 2010, after several hours of early morning fighting, Royal Thai Army tanks and armoured personnel carriers crashed through barricades that had closed down the commercial heart of Bangkok for more than six weeks. They initially advanced into the Silom and Sala Daeng area, Bangkok’s “Wall Street”. The red-shirted ...

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Chapter 1. Landscapes of Illusion and the First Level of Colonisation: Th onburi-Kudijeen, Rattanankosin, Ratchadamnoen

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pp. 1-42

There are difficulties in understanding — reading — Bangkok. It is, at least to the Western eye, a city of chaos, a landscape of incoherent collisions and blurring overlays. It is a city of sharp contrasts, collisions and inconsistencies (juxtapositions), also a space of screens, overlays and surfaces (superimpositions). There is constant ambiguity, in the screens ...

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Chapter 2. Landscapes of the Modern Age and the Second Level of Colonisation: Charoen Krung, Silom, Ratchadamnoen

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pp. 43-86

Thanon Charoen Krung runs from the old city of Rattanakosin downstream along the Maenam Chao Phraya eastern riverbank, serving the succession of Bangkok’s early ports, Chinese and Western trading companies and the early Western embassies. Together with the grand ceremonial avenue of Thanon Ratchadamnoen, it constitutes the landscape ...

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Chapter 3. Libidinal Landscapes and the Third Level of Colonisation: Sukhumvit

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pp. 87-125

In the following, “Sukhumvit” will be used rather loosely to refer to the whole eastward highway of Rama I, Phloenchit and Sukhumvit itself. In large measure, Sukhumvit is the armature on which the city grew in the 20th century and presents Bangkok at its most diverse, layered, ambiguous, heterotopic. If one penetrates beneath its surface appearances, it is the landscape from which one is to read ...

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Chapter 4. Landscapes of Ruin and the Fourth Level of Colonisation: Ratchadapisek, the Khlong Toei slums

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pp. 126-165

The fourth level of colonisation is that of the culture itself. Various of its manifestations have been observed in Chapter 3, in the context of an increasingly globalised world from the 1960s onwards: American R&R and then international tourism transformed long tolerated practices of polygamy and sexual dalliance, the shopping mall transformed ...

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Chapter 5. Landscapes of the Mind and the Fifth Level of Colonisation: The Universities

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pp. 166-198

The fifth level of the (neo-)colonisation of Thailand and of Asia more widely is that of the mind — of the ways that knowledge is socially constructed. Th e language wars of the 20th century saw the emergence of English as the one medium of global communication, although the “fatality of human linguistic diversity” — the way that a language takes ...

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Epilogue: The City Unmasked

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pp. 199-209

The main entrance gates to Thammasat University are on Th anon Na Phra That and immediately face Sanam Luang. As one enters, there is the bulk of the university’s Auditorium building on the left, in an undistinguished style that makes passing references to both religious and official-nationalist architecture, and a linear garden, some 80 metres ...

Glossary

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pp. 210-212

Notes

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pp. 213-222

Bibliography

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pp. 223-239

Index

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pp. 240-259