Book Review: Federico Ferrara. 2015. The Political Development of Modern Thailand

Date01 August 2017
Published date01 August 2017
Subject MatterBook Reviews
Book Reviews
Federico Ferrara. 2015. The Political Development of Modern
Thailand. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 328 pp.
ISBN: 9781107061811
The Political Development of Modern Thailand by Federico Ferrara is an excellent
account of Thailand’s political history to date. The book begins with an examination
of the state-building process that not only marked the beginning of the 1932
National Revolution but also highlights the articulation of the official ideology,
which forms the basis of Thailand’s contemporary royal nationalism. Ferrara
provides a chronological narrative of Thailand’s political development and an
analytical causal explanation framed in explicit theoretical forms about the long-
standing political instability in Thailand.
With years of thoughtful research, Ferrara has been able to successfully
identify and analyse the changing political structures in Thailand. Ferrara’s
deep research makes a significant contribution by communicating to the audience
the intricacies involved as to how Thailand rose from a deep state of crisis by a
royalist military coup staged in 2006 to a modern interpretation of state identity.
The book starts with a description of the conceptual issues of democracy followed
by the classification of its methodology and structure and finally ends up by
examining the limitations of this study. Ferrera also analyses how the relation-
ship between nationalism and democracy became a building block in explaining
Thailand’s regime instability.
Modern Thailand examines how a growing rift between the hierarchical
worldview of Thailand’s hegemonic ‘royal nationalism’ and the aspirations of
millions of people has come to harbour as a result of modernization. The author
makes an engaging analysis about the interplay of structural and contingent
factors that prepared the country towards military rule, and how the lack of legit-
imacy created a vacuum in the Thai administration. Ferrera traces the roots of the
crisis to unresolved struggles dating back to the abolition of absolute monarchy
in 1932, which was initiated by a group of military and civilian officials. In fact
the 1932 revolution led to a transition of power when King Prajadhipok was
forced to grant the Siamese their first constitution, thereby ending the century old
institution of absolute monarchy. From 1932 until 1973 and beyond, Thailand
was dominated by military dictatorships. Although the 1973 protests led the
Journal of Asian Security
and International Affairs
4(2) 249–261
2017 SAGE Publications India
Private Limited
SAGE Publications
DOI: 10.1177/2347797017710754

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