Archive | November 2021

Siam Society Talk on Raquez in Bangkok

My talk at the Siam Society on Alfred Raquez’s 1903 trip to Bangkok is next week. Unlike Raquez, due to pandemic travel restrictions, I will not be in Bangkok but broadcasting from my dining table in Singapore…so you can tune in too on the Society’s Facebook Live and YouTube Live pages, streams, sites, whatever…links in the link above!

See you there!

In 1903, French journalist and explorer Alfred Raquez visited Bangkok to cover the jubilee of King Chulalongkorn for the Hanoi-based newspaper L’Avenir du Tonkin, leaving one of the most detailed accounts of the pageantry of the celebrations, which has unfortunately been all but forgotten. However vivid his descriptions, they must also be read against the background of French-Siamese political tensions of the time, tensions that continue to have an impact on Thailand’s relations with its neighbors of former Indochina. This presentation will discuss Raquez’s coverage of King Chulalongkorn’s jubilee as 1) a historical artifact of French colonial posturing at the fin-de-siècle; 2) a descriptive travelogue that offers a vivid portrait of the event; 3) a source for traces of biographical information about the elusive Raquez himself.

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