The Victory Monument: the Politics of Representations of Thai Identity and Colonial Discourse in Built Forms

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Koompong Noobanjong


This research presents a critical inquiry of the Victory Monument in Bangkok with respect to its symbolic
roles in the mediation of state power, together with the identification of the “Thai Self,” known as khwampenthai
or ‘Thainess.’ By utilizing Thainess as a mode of problematization, the paper argues that: 1) under the
ideological cover of nationalism, anti-colonialism, and democracy, the politics of representation at the memorial
have lent legitimacy for governments since the Pibunsongkhram era to pursue their political agenda; and 2) the
practice of colonization in Southeast Asia did not exclusively come from the West, but also took place among
states within the region, as evidenced by the construction of the Victory Monument. In fostering self-reflexive
dialogues on Thainess, the upcoming investigations illustrate the ways in which the built environment has been
employed to represent something other than itself in the nation-building process. These topics are discussed
via the themes of: 1) a political form of architecture and urban space: how the Victory Monument has been
manipulated to serve politics; and 2) an architectural and urban form of politics: how politics has influenced the
design and signification of the memorial.


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