Siege Of The Spirits: Community And Polity In Bangkok by Michael Herzfeld

Siege Of The Spirits: Community And Polity In Bangkok

byMichael Herzfeld

Paperback | March 11, 2016

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What happens when three hundred alleged squatters go head-to-head with an enormous city government looking to develop the place where they live? As anthropologist Michael Herzfeld shows in this book, the answer can be surprising. He tells the story of Pom Mahakan, a tiny enclave in the heart of old Bangkok whose residents have resisted authorities’ demands to vacate their homes for a quarter of a century. It’s a story of community versus government, of old versus new, and of political will versus the law.
           
Herzfeld argues that even though the residents of Pom Mahakan have lost every legal battle the city government has dragged them into, they have won every public relations contest, highlighting their struggle as one against bureaucrats who do not respect the age-old values of Thai/Siamese social and cultural order. Such values include compassion for the poor and an understanding of urban space as deeply embedded in social and ritual relations. In a gripping account of their standoff, Herzfeld—who simultaneously argues for the importance of activism in scholarship—traces the agile political tactics and styles of the community’s leadership, using their struggle to illuminate the larger difficulties, tensions, and unresolved debates that continue to roil Thai society to this day. 

About The Author

Michael Herzfeld is the Ernest E. Monrad Professor of the Social Sciences in the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University and has taught at several other universities worldwide. He is the author of many books, most recently The Body Impolitic and Evicted from Eternity, both also published by the University of Chicago Press. 
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Details & Specs

Title:Siege Of The Spirits: Community And Polity In BangkokFormat:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.63 inPublished:March 11, 2016Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022633161X

ISBN - 13:9780226331614

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"From start to finish, Siege of the Spirits reads like the captivating political drama it is, evoking what is a very complex reality through the struggles of people in a small, even temporary community. Scholars of Thai studies, sociology, political science, anthropology, and cultural psychology will find much that is worth thinking about in this book, especially in the increasing attention paid to social inequalities and the competing social values that reinforce and resist them."