Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Muban administration modeled after British colonial model

Google Books can be a very valuable way to search for higher quality sources of information - if only the more of the out of print books would be available to be read online beyond a few lines of text. In the book "The golden peninsula" Charles F. Keyes discussed the difference between the administrative villages and the actual settlements, especially how the administrative villages were created.
In 1887-1889, following the conquest of upper Burma, the British Commissioner promulgated two regulations that redefined "villages" to suit governmental rather than peasant purposes. Furnivall has described the consequences of these acts:
[The new regulations issued by Sir Charles Crosthwaite, the British Commissioner] abolished self-government over any unit larger than the village, and, by converting the village from a social and residential unit into an administrative unit, cut at the roots of organic life within the village.
King Chulalongkorn and his advisers in Thailand made an effort to copy directly the new system of local administration implemented in Burma.
You can continue to read the chapter at Google books, as most parts of the book is available online - just to bad the bibliography is only partially visible, and the source of above quote is on the omitted pages. But I will now try to get myself a copy of this book - though out of print a few used copies are available at the various antiquarian book sellers.

It was new to me that quite some part of the whole thesaphiban reforms by prince Damrong were modeled after the colonial model adopted in Burma. But it's not that much surprising, as many of the reforms done by King Chulalongkorn were at least inspired by the western administrative systems, like the sanitary districts as the precursor of the municipalities were modeled after the same-named entities in Great Britain.

2 comments:

john francis lee said...

Thailand can be viewed as the Bangkok Empire. Certainly many of the actions of the "Thai" government can only be explained as acts of extractive imperialism by the Bangkok "elite".

The struggle for a truly indigenous administration in Suvaranabhumi is the story of Thailand. I hope I see it come to pass. If not in this life then in the next.

[OTOPH] said...

The idea of a Bangkok Empire certainly rings true. The problem now, of course, is that it is the Chiang Mai "elite" that is now making an all-out bid to take over the imperialistic extraction of fithy lucre. Hardly an indigenous administration either. And perhaps the notion of Suvarnabhumi is way too ambitious for us mere mortals anyway.