During the early decades of the twentieth century, Thailand's capital, Bangkok, took on an increasingly cosmopolitan character-a development fueled both by global economic forces and a local revolution in communications. The 1920s were a particularly dynamic period of social and cultural transformation that had a profound impact on the development of Thai modernity. This book examines the growth of a polyphonous and often vociferous Thai public, a public that used a range of new media outlets to express themselves and clamor for a more just and equitable social order. Scot BarmZ mines a rich lode of previously ignored cultural ephemera found in popular newspapers, magazines, novels, short stories, film booklets, and cartoons to create a vibrant cultural history of early modern Thailand that moves beyond conventional, elite-based historical studies of the period. By focusing on such controversies and conflicts as the status of women, relations between the sexes, class antagonisms, and the growth of a commercial mass culture, this book offers a new interpretation of the key decade of the 1920s and its significance for contemporary Thailand.
Scot Barme's study of Bangkok is pathbreaking. By focusing on cinema, the press, cartoons, gender, and sexuality a century ago, he produces an original and fascinating picture of social and political change. There is no comparable work on Thailand's social history. No historian will want to ignore his story or his methods. No one will read this book and not have their image of Bangkok and Thailand changed.--Kevin Hewison, City University of Hong Kong