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Trakun, Politics and the Thai State

Abstract : Political trakun are patrilineages that have distinguished themselves through engaging in politics over several generations by filling key positions of the state, such as the cabinet and parliament. The study of political trakun though has not yet been given academic attention. Despite most accounts of Thai political history being simultaneously the accounts of the royal and other elite families, little research has aimed to understand the entanglement of families and the state. The literature on Thailand after 1932 offers even less insight into Thai kinship politics. Political trakun, if they are mentioned at all, generally appear in footnotes, as anecdotes or as part of biographies. In this thesis I will address this gap. This thesis will show what political trakun are and how they are established. Their evolvement over the course of history and the way they adapted to changing political circumstances will also be examined. It will be explained how political trakun have been able to become entwined with the Thai state. This will be demonstrated through the analysis of the case studies of five political trakun in the larger context of Thai society and politics. Particular events from these trakun's lives and careers, such as marriages, election campaigns and funerals, will function as lenses through which to critically reassess the intersection of seemingly disparate strands: the trakun and the state. This study will argue that political trakun have taken crucial positions in the Thai state over decades. In this way they have control of the state and amass resources which they can transform into economic and symbolic capital. This capital is used to win elections and to maintain the influential position of political trakun. Capital is reproduced through socialization from one generation to the next. Strategic marriages create alliances or strengthen cooperation in the trakun. Upon the death of one member of the trakun, the funeral mediates the possible loss of symbolic capital in all its forms. Hereby, the traditional funeral rituals are utilized and reinvented for the proliferation of the trakun's symbolic capital. The role of political trakun shows that the Thai state is an abstract concept of an institution exercising sovereignty over a given territory, relating fundamentally to the maintenance of order within its territory and to the business of government. This has given rise to the image of an organizational structure, which is recognized as the state. The praxis of government, however, is performed by an entangled mass of interlocking relationships between individuals and groups of individuals. One type of such relationships that is integral to the Thai state is kinship relationships, which are manifest in the political trakun.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - 12:05:54 PM
Last modification on : Monday, October 19, 2020 - 10:54:42 AM
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  • HAL Id : tel-00850357, version 1



Katja Rangsivek. Trakun, Politics and the Thai State. Social Anthropology and ethnology. University of Copenhagen, 2013. English. ⟨tel-00850357⟩



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