The Politics of Reform in Thailand: Education in the Reign of King Chulalongkorn

The Politics of Reform in Thailand: Education in the Reign of King Chulalongkorn

The Politics of Reform in Thailand: Education in the Reign of King Chulalongkorn

The Politics of Reform in Thailand: Education in the Reign of King Chulalongkorn

Excerpt

The reign of King Chulalongkorn (1868-1910) is generally accepted as the period during which Thailand, by astute leadership and timely modernization, built its foundations as a modern nation. During this forty-two year period, Thailand's rulers actively set about transforming every facet of national life. They entered into a creative process of national development at a time when the impact of the West was at its greatest, yet maintained their national identity as Thai.

Thailand's modernization and political survival have come to be represented as products of the fortuitous historical circumstances that allowed her to balance against each other the French and British threats to her independence and of the ability of her absolute, but Westernized, monarch to force the introduction of Western institutions and techniques suggested by his numerous foreign advisers. Such an interpretation of this important period in Thai history fails to explain what happened and merely describes; and for lack of adequate historical materials, the most crucial domestic factors in this process have been left undescribed. Thailand's response to the West was a creative one which flowed painfully but naturally out of Thai history, society, and culture to transform the old Kingdom of Siam into a new and modern Thai nation. The central problem . . .

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