Reversed Realities: National Pride and Visual Coding

Author: Porranee Singpliam, Waseda University, Japan
Published: February 28, 2017

Citation: Singpliam, P. (2017). Reversed Realities: National Pride and Visual Coding. IAFOR Journal of Cultural Studies, 2(1).


This paper examines the historicity of Siam/Thailand and shows that the contact which took place between Siam and the European Other in the mid-nineteenth century, considered the start of the modernization period, paved way for the synthetic notion of what it meant to embody Thainess. This paper also focuses on the power relations affecting how the conception of Thainess was engendered. In order to tackle this history, we must study the counter-history of the remnants that were selectively left for us, the new generation. Following Thongchai Winichakul’s (1994) analysis of the historical Siam map, the geopolitical framing that was introduced from the West itself, we can see that it signifies a code that interpellates numerous
sentiments relating to patriotism, pride, and nation building. This particular notion of visual code is transcribed once again on the body of the 1965 Miss Universe. From these two cases, I argue that what it is to be Thai (with a special focus on Thai woman) is a conceptualization that is symbolically constituted and enunciated, forming a synthesis of contact with both the real and the imagined West.


Thainess, farang, siwilai, femininity, performativity