Thailand from within and without
: the exoticisation, misrepresentation and reclamation of the imagery of Thailand and its people

  • Andrew Russell

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

This thesis explores the representation of Thailand and its people. It considers not only Western representations, but additionally the way Thailand has portrayed itself in films that have been exported to the West. The thesis claims that many of the films that fall into the latter category have secured distribution in the West due to specific generic traits, such as the utilisation of horror codes and conventions. This means that they can be associated with other successful Asian film movements that are en vogue with global audiences, and as such are marketed in a way that erases their national identity.
By using a post-colonial theoretical framework, primarily drawing from the work of Edward Said, the thesis discusses how Thailand has continuously been misrepresented in Hollywood films, as well as on Western television screens, and how it has been frequently Othered and exoticised. This thesis claims that there is a new Thai film movement developing due to the work of three key directors. These directors are reclaiming the imagery of Thailand. This movement has been established within the independent sector benefiting from European film funding streams. The directors favour the slow cinema aesthetic to portray their version of Thailand and tell the stories of their fellow citizens. By affording the camera extended periods of time to gaze upon the landscape and the Thai people, a version of Thailand that had not been seen on Western screens is revealed, a representation that also contains pertinent allegorical content.
Date of AwardJun 2021
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorDeborah Shaw (Supervisor), Lincoln Geraghty (Supervisor), Yael Friedman-Silver (Supervisor) & Justin Timothy Smith (Supervisor)

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