Friday, April 23, 2010

Vote Buying and Village Outrage

While everyone is staring on the deteriorating situation in Bangkok, I rediscovered a paper titled "Vote Buying and Village Outrage in an Election in Northern Thailand" by anthropologist Katherine Bowie at scribd - though I guess it shouldn't be there copyright-wise. The paper was originally published in the "Journal of Asian Studies" in May 2008 (doi: 10.1017/S0021911808000673).

In Short, the Kamnan is the
Hanuman of the Village
Similar to the book by Daniel Arghiros I mentioned here before, the author has observed the local elections for a subdistrict headman in 1995 as well as later for the Tambon administrative organization president and council in 2006 in a Tambon in Chiang Mai, which was given a fictitious name to protect the persons involved. But even more interesting than the actual events at both elections are the long sections giving the background on local administration, including several nice illustrations from anonymous government handbooks. Definitely more fun to read this paper than to follow the latest developments on Twitter...


john francis lee said...

Thanks for the link to "Vote Buying and Village Outrage in an Election in Northern Thailand".

john francis lee said...

I have been through "Vote Buying and Village Outrage in an Election in Northern Thailand" once now and I am very grateful for your link to it. If you find more such papers please don't hesitate to post them.

The historical background given in the paper is as worthwhile reading as is the first-hand account of the title.

There seem to be two sorts of "democracy" in Thailand : the top-down, "Thai-style democracy" at the national level which is not in any way democratic, and the bottom-up traditions of the village which were never given the foreign name but are the archetype of "democracy".

This story is of how the top-down version polluted the bottom-up version and of the response of the villagers to that attack by "democracy" on their own democratic process, and of their subsequent resuscitation of their well-rooted, bottom-up version.

I hope that the villagers presently in Bangkok are also successful.