Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät - Institut für Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften

Thailand@HU Lecture Series: "To protect and Suppress: Order and Spectacle in the Year of the Thai Police"

  • Wann 29.05.2013 von 18:00 bis 20:00
  • Wo IAAW, Invalidenstr. 118, 10115 Berlin, Room 117 (1st floor)
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Dr. Eric Haanstad from the University of Freiburg – Sociocultural Anthropology: "To protect and Suppress: Order and Spectacle in the Year of the Thai Police"


Wednesday, 29. May 2013, 18.00-20.00 pm, room 117



On the first day of 2003’s lunar New Year of the Water Goat, the former Thai Prime Minister and Police Lieutenant Colonel, Thaksin Shinawatra, declared a three-month drug suppression campaign that resulted in thousands of unsolved murders. This “war on drugs” was immediately followed by another three-month campaign against crime and corruption, the “war on dark influence.” Immediately after this campaign ended, the purported mastermind behind the nightclub bombings in Bali the previous year, Riduan Isamuddin, a.k.a. “Hambali,” was arrested by a joint team of Thai police and U.S. intelligence agents in the former Thai capital of Ayutthaya. As Hambali, “the Osama Bin Laden of Asia” was loaded onto a rendition flight to a CIA black site, unprecedented security preparations for October’s Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit were underway in Bangkok. Thailand was to serve a greater role as a battleground in the global “war on terror.” This spectacular showcase of consecutive police-led campaigns against drugs, corruption, and terrorism formed a chain of causation leading to an intensification of violence in southern Thailand in 2004, a military coup which deposed Thaksin in 2006, and the continual destabilization of Thailand’s once-venerated democracy. The story of 2003’s unprecedented Thai police campaigns is the underlying narrative behind Thailand’s current political volatility. This talk is the story of a formative year in Thai history, when the invisible structures of Thai political power became visible, and thus it is the story of the Royal Thai Police.