One of the earliest posts at this blog was to mention Serhat Ünaldi’s 2013 article “Working Towards the Monarchy and its Discontents: Anti-royal Graffiti in Downtown Bangkok” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2013.842260).
At the time, in late July 2014, this article had been downloaded more than 4000 times. It is now up to more than 5000 article views, and that certainly deserves mention here.
This article remains available for free download.
Following its abstract, the article examines the desacralisation of royal charisma in contemporary Thailand. Over the past few years an underground discourse has emerged among critics of royal ideology and supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra that directly confronts the power of the monarchy. The images, metaphors and linguistic devices used in the process are difficult to study because they rarely appear in public. This article focuses on an unprecedented demonstration of rage against the monarchy on September 19, 2010, when red-shirted demonstrators painted anti-royal graffiti on a construction hoarding at Ratchaprasong intersection in downtown Bangkok. In analysing the Thai political crisis as a battle of different charismatic groups, the article will present the September 19 event as the first open strike against the sacred charisma of the Thai monarchy. This charisma has hitherto been protected by royalists from all walks of life who were “working towards the monarchy.” With their attacks on the monarchy the red-shirts were challenging a legitimacy-conferring system which had benefited wide sections of the Bangkok populace in the past. At the same time, a competing charismatic movement has emerged around Thaksin, who himself has to take into account the charisma he conferred upon his followers.
Articles on Thailand’s politics, and the monarchy in particular, receive heavy online attention.
JCA’s special issue on Thailand’s 2006 coup (Vol. 38, No. 1) is an example. It has received numerous citations in academic journals and now has almost 7000 article views for the articles in the special issue.