Next Friday (18 May) I will present a public seminar at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. (The University announcement is here.) Here are the details:

The rural constitution (р╕гр╕▒р╕Рр╕Шр╕гр╕гр╕бр╕Щр╕╣р╕Нр╕Кр╕▓р╕зр╕Ър╣Йр╕▓р╕Щ) and the everyday politics of elections in northern Thailand

Friday 18 May, 2007, 10.00-12.00.
Faculty of Political Science
Meeting Room 12 (2nd floor )
Kasem Uttayanin Building (Building 3)
Chulalongkorn University

I will present an edited version of my paper on the rural constitution, previously featured on New Mandala. Here is the abstract:

The Thai coup of 19 September 2006 derived ideological legitimacy from the view that the Thaksin government’s electoral mandate was illegitimate because it had been “bought” from an unsophisticated and easily manipulated electorate. There is nothing new about this argument, nor its use in justifying military interference. Political commentators have regularly asserted that the Thai populace┬н, and especially the rural populace, lacks the basic characteristics essential for a modern democratic citizenry. Accounts of the deficiencies of rural voters often focus on their parochialism, their lack of political sophistication, the vulnerability to vote buying and the influence of electoral canvassers (hua khanaen). In this paper I challenge this negative portrayal of rural electoral culture. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in northern Thailand, I argue that the everyday politics of elections is informed by a range of different electoral values that shape judgements about legitimate, and illegitimate, political power in electoral contexts. These local values can be usefully thought of as comprising a “rural constitution.”

There will be plenty of time for questions, discussion and debate. All welcome!