INAF-366 Thailand in Southeast Asia
Fall for 2005-2006
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For the past fifty years, Thailand has been central to Southeast Asia. The oldest treaty ally of the United States in Asia, it was a strong Cold War U.S. ally and, after the fall of Saigon, a frontline state against communist Indochina. In the 1980’s, Thailand became one of Asia’s “economic miracles.” In 1997, however, a sharp drop in the Thai baht launched the Asian economic crisis. Since September 11, 2001, tensions in the Thai Muslim community in the southern provinces have risen to crisis level and, more recently, Thai islands in the Adaman Sea were devastated by the tsunami. Although Thailand retains close ties with the United States, it has also developed one of the region’s closest partnerships with China. Thailand is also unique in many ways. It is one of the few developing countries that was never colonized and, in the late twentieth century, was one of the few Asian societies which democratized during the “Third Wave” of global democracy.
This course will explore Thailand’s history, politics, economics and security in the context of Southeast Asia’s development as a region. By focusing on Thailand as exemplary of Southeast Asia’s problems and progress, students will be able to understand the region as a whole. Course materials will include analysis of political, economic and security trends by both Western and Thai authors; examples of Thai modern fiction which portray social trends; and screenings of contemporary Thai films. No previous knowledge of Asia is required.
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