He is now Editor in Chief of the online daily newsmagazine Israel Insider. Gee I wonder if it is near my favorite place, Ein Yahav? Pioneers created a kibbutzim filled with idealism 94 years ago. Decades later, the kibbutz communities are not the same. Many of the , kibbutz members have a different sort of idealism. Can the community still be considered a kibbutz? In this debut collection of stories, the author introduces you to kibbutz residents challenged with adapting to new realities. Along the way you'll see how kibbutzniks face up to the violence of the Intifada, cope with the Internet, and struggle to have more control over their lives.
Meet a clown who uses magic to heal the wounds of terror victims, a veteran dairy worker who has difficulties bidding farewell to an albino cow, a farmer who must decide what to do with the prize money of a lottery, and a reporter who is researching comedian Jerry Seinfeld's kibbutz past.
A Candid Word About An Untold Story
These are the stories of Israel's unique society, of the changes and dilemmas it faces, and of the hopes, challenges and dreams of those who continue to call the kibbutz their home. Includes a three page glossary. Anne and Charles Braithwaite, musicians, have spent their entire married life in a sedate old apartment building, among Columbia professors and intellectuals.
As the novel opens, their comfortable life is being threatened as a buoyant economy sends newly rich Wall Street types scurrying northward in search of good investments and more space. The story of the Heugenot paster who saved Jews and other refugees in Nazi France. This is the story of him and his network of other righteous pastors and congregants. St Martins. Robert Meeropol was six years old when his parents Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were executed for conspiracy to commit espionage in Though this was certainly a significant event in his life, it was not the single defining moment as one might assume.
It is also not the central theme of his memoir, though it does play a strong supporting role. In fact, Meeropol has only vague memories of his parents. What he does remember are years spent in orphanages and foster homes before he and his brother were adopted by Abel and Anne Meeropol. While the event did cause some childhood trauma, he reflects that "I can't help feeling that I gained as much as I lost during those years. Rather, it is the story of a thoughtful person and his struggle to find his purpose in the world.
Reared on left-wing politics and social activism, he knew he wanted to help others, but he was unsure of the route to take, and his writes of his confusion and troubles with engaging frankness. Sycamore, who grew up on Sycamore Street, debuts this collection of stories with keen humor. Somewhere between autobio and fiction, the narrator moves from Boston to post grunge Seattle to Manhattan in the s. His voice is fresh in both senses of the word: new and impudent.
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Rutgers Univ Press. A provocative look at its history and future. Targum Press. Go to Targum. Under the nazis, he was a certified Jew, under the Russians, he was a German, and he was interned in the Rothenstein labor camp. Chicago Review Press. Children can try their hand at re-creating ancient Israelite culture-along with the cultures of their neighbors, the Philistines and Phoenicians-in a way that will provide perspective on current events.
The book covers a key period from the Israelites' settlement in Canaan in B. This part of the Middle East-no larger than modern-day Michigan-was the birthplace of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. More than 35 projects include stomping grapes into juice, building a model Phoenician trading ship, making a Philistine headdress, and writing on a broken clay pot. Israelites', Phoenicians', and Philistines' writing and languages, the way they built their homes, the food they ate, the clothes they wore, and the work they did, and of course, their many interesting stories, are all explored.
Everyone wants to rule the world, but only a precious few have the skills to create an ironclad plan of attack. Simple, direct, and delightfully unprincipled, this guide to ruling the world contains tales of global power mongering from every age and endeavors to show dilettante dictators and tyrants-to-be just how it's done. Tips are provided on creating a personal flag, what type of puppet government to establish, how to squelch free speech, and, most important, how to handle enemies.
Also included are humorous full-color illustrations, sidebars on admirable despots, and self-quizzes that allow readers to see if they have what it takes to conquer the world. This fun college graduation or father's day gift is perfect for those who have their hearts set on world domination. Joshua Seigl, 38, a celebrated, self absorbed, reclusive author, is forced for reasons of failing, decaying health a nerve disorder to surrender his much-prized bachelor's independence. Advertising for an assistant, he unwittingly embarks upon the most dangerous adventure of his privileged life.
Alma Busch, a sensuous, physically attractive young woman with bizarre burned tattoos covering much of her eyes and body, stirs in Seigl a complex of emotions: pity? She is nearly illiterate. Unaware of her painful past and her troubled personality, Seigl hires her as his assistant. She steals from Joshua, and shower her anti Jewish boyfriend with the stolen trinkets. With her masterful balance of dark suspense and surprising tenderness, Joyce Carol Oates probes the contemporary tragedy of ethnic hatred and challenges our accepted limits of desire.
The Tattooed Girl may be her most controversial novel. One June 19, , the parents of 6 year old Robert Meeropol were executed as spies. It was pm, the Jewish chaplain read Psalm 23, and within 20 minutes, both were electrocuted to death. Robert Meeropol grew up torn between the need to pursue his political values and his intense fear that personal exposure might subject him and his family to violence or even death. This is the story of how he tried to balance a strong desire to live a normal life and raise a family with a growing need to create something useful out of his childhood nightmare.
It is also a poignant account of how, at age forty-three, he finally found a way to honor his parents and be true to himself. Houghton Mifflin. But Lipsky came for the chow, but stayed for the story, rented a room in Highland Falls, off post, and stayed four years. Lipsky tackles these questions through superbly crafted portraits of cadets and the elite officers who mold them, following them into classrooms, marches, barracks, mess halls, rainy marches, and more military exercises.
His reportage extends from through , arguably the most eventful four years in West Point history. He depicts young people of every race, mixed race, and class, and details the rigorous training program that erases their preconceptions and makes them a tight-knit community.
We witness the failure of some Plebes who are unable to pass the Phys. Delacorte Press. Zimler, a university teacher near Lisbon, was lauded for his last novel, The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon. In this new novel, which spans 2 continents and 3 generations, we encounter a child, an African slave, and secret Jews in 19th Century Portugal.
He has created another historical mystery. In , John Zarco Stewart, a 7 year old half Scottish boy in the city of Porto befriends Midnight, an freed slave, African magician and healer. But from the wreckage comes revelation as he uncovers truths and lies hidden by the people he loved and trusted most, and discovers the act of unspeakable betrayal that destroyed his family--and his faith.
And so his shattering quest begins as he travels to America, to hunt for hope in a land shackled by unforgivable sin. Atria Books. A confederacy of silence allowed the author to thrive in Mississippi, but also forced him to leave it. He was a fish out of water, a bagel out of the comfort of the bakery he meets his fellow Jews in Greenwood, however. He lives as a NY Jew in Mississippi for a year. He writes local stories, gets experience as a journalist, and starts to follow the story of a local high school ball player who may be destined for greatness.
What went wrong? Is it an unsettling tale of the modern Southern justice? Does the legacy of Emmett Till still haunt Mississippi? The author returns to cover the trial and try to figure out how a football player with a chance screwed it all up. In these pages are artists, writers, a commodities trader, a concert pianist, all at various crossroads and turning points in their lives. But as always with Epstein, the magic, the charm, and the humor are in his lavish details.
What distinguishes them as Jews in this universal situation is a certain wry outlook, a vernacular turn of phrase that carries the tang of its Yiddish origin, and a tendency to philosophize about the deeper questions of existence. In "Postcards," Seymour Hefferman, an acidulous and malicious failed poet, anonymously castigates cultural eminences when they offend his sensibilities, signing a Jewish name instead of his own; he finally gets his comeuppance. The eponymous Felix Emeritus, a cautious Buchenwald survivor who has never asked much of life, meets in an old-age home a bitter man who can't surmount his dark view of human nature.
Mostly settled in Chicago, these 17 characters are no heroes, only reflective personalities-little people with big opinions-who have made their share of sacrifices. Like his emotionally candid, low-key protagonists, Epstein is intrinsically honest They are sick of being used for Kapores, the New Year custom in which people swing a live chicken over their heads, hoping to erase their bad deeds.
When all of the chickens run away, the women try to coax them back with grain, the men try to get them back with force, and the rabbi tries to negotiate. Finally the boy pleads, "Without Kapores, I will never be able to make my papa proud. They were uncelebrated, unassuming, and one had a grocery supply route. What their neighbors and co-workers did not know was that these brothers, with another brother, led Jews into the forests during WWII, saved more Jewish lives than Oskar Schindler, created a town, and formed platoons of armed resistance to kill Nazi soldiers.
For two and a half years, they hid and fought.
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They made their refuge a place open to all types of Jews, young or old, healthy or infirmed, Betar, Zionist, or Socialist. The author writes a documentary portrait of the family prior to WWI, between the wars, and during the war. After witnessing the murder of their parents and 2 siblings, Asael, Tuvia, and Zus Bielski fled into the forest and spread the word that there was a haven in the woods.
Over time, Jews were saved by living with them in the forest. There was a temple, a bathhouse, a store, and even a theater in the woods. For 2 and a half years they eluded the Nazis and death. This is their story. Hubka July Brandeis University Press. A provocative interpretation of the art and architecture of a pre-modern wooden synagogue illuminates the social, historical, and religious context of an Eastern-European Jewish community. Verso Books. Jossey Bass. In this intensely passionate and compelling book, the best-selling feminist and Jewish writer Phyllis Chesler demonstrates how old-fashioned anti-Semitism has become newly fashionable, even politically correct, and how this plague threatens the Jews of the world, America, and Western civilization.
A dangerous, worldwide coalition of Islamic terrorists, well-intentioned but profoundly misinformed students, right wing fascists, left-wing ideologues, pious academics, feminists, opportunistic European politicians, and sensation-seeking international media have joined together to once again blame the Jews and the Jewish state for the current world crisis.
Today, lethal activism against the Jews often takes the form of anti-Zionism. Since then, hundreds of synagogues have been burned, cemeteries and destroyed, and Jews threatened, boycotted, beaten, and killed. Jews have been blamed for huge stock market losses and for the decline of the world economy. The long-ago disproven Protocols of Zion, which accuse the Jews of an alleged world-conspiracy to conquer and control the world, have been revived and promulgated in the United States, Europe, and the Middle East. So what must we do? No, the Jews do not control the world's money and media, and the Jews did not kill Christ.
Avoid rigid, dogmatic ideologies. Focus on the world's real problems disease, poverty, illiteracy, violence instead of scapegoating the Jews and demonizing the Jewish state. Be fair to Israel. Restore campus civility and above all, Jews must stop fighting among themselves. Now she has been incarcerated in a Tehran prison, for all manner of incontestible treason, most of which seem to revolve around her not being a good Muslim.
As Mehdi's stories unfold, Celia learns more about this brave woman whom she refers as Ester, paying homage to the Biblical Jewish wife of the King of Persia who pled for her people's freedom. Brandeis University July Jewish Publication Society. A biography of Heschel for young adults. Call them the "post Roth" generation. With their evocative storytelling abilities, exquisite attention to language, and profound compassion for the complex lives of their characters, these 25 authors are creating an exciting new direction for contemporary Jewish fiction.
Schocken Books. From Schocken Books or from Shocking Books? Their 2 grown sons have now left the small town for the attractions of bigger cities. Dr Liscow enjoys writing, reading, history, exercise, nutrition, and nature. He says, "Any time I'm in view of the mountains or have a view from the mountains is a special experience. This project will accompany Liscow's historical narrative, Memoir to My Unborn Son, in which his grandfather, who emigrated from Belarus, narrates to his unborn son the unborn son being David's father who was born in in Ohio. See All Customer Reviews.
Shop Books. Add to Wishlist. USD Sign in to Purchase Instantly. This memoir preserves personal anecdotes of Jewishness, hard work, and community. Product Details About the Author. While an undergrad, Dr. Liscow traveled alone for 6 weeks in South America where he was struck with the importance of learning and contributing a needed skill to people; he decided to become a Family Physician. Show More. Average Review. Write a Review. Related Searches. A Voyage to Arcturus. On a march evening, at eight o'clock, Backhouse, the medium-a fast-rising star in the psychic On a march evening, at eight o'clock, Backhouse, the medium-a fast-rising star in the psychic world-was ushered into the study at Prolands, the Hampstead residence of Montague Faull.
A few years later, Nidhi dropped another bombshell by publishing Kanmuang samai phrachao krung Thonburi Politics during the Thonburi period , which questions the conventional version of the heroic life and tragic death of King Taksin of the Thonburi period In the Thai chronicles, King Taksin was supposedly raised as nobility because his mother was from a noble family.
A Jek is someone brought up in a mixed culture—Thai and Chinese. That general later became King Rama I, who established the current Chakkri dynasty. Perhaps more effective in decentering the ethnic Thai from their own history was the slim volume published by Sujit in under the cheeky title Jek pon Lao Jek mixed with Lao. In that popular book, Sujit claims that the Thai of today are really Chinese mixed with Lao.
He insinuates that the Thai are no longer a well-defined race but an ethnicity composed of many races and cultures. Furthermore, the various races in Thailand have also made major contributions to the modern state. In this reconceptualization of race and history, the culture of the Jek and the story of their lives in Thailand become integral to Thai culture and history. If we are to subscribe to the notion that the Sino-Thai were singled out as the dangerous Other Within—the foreign element in Thai society that helped defined the Thai, or the minority group that was forced to accept the role of supplicant to the generous Thai king and people—then it is possible to call the Sino-Thai subalterns in mainstream Thai society.
The literature that we have reviewed thus far depicts the Sino-Thai as suppressed voices. Even the last two novels, although written by Sino-Thai authors, have also accepted the Chinese inferiority enforced by the official state interpellation of Chineseness. The next two novels selected for this study reject the existing stereotype of the meek and marginalized Chinese.
By the s, Thai society had seen more than a decade of double-digit economic growth. More and more young people were entering universities, and many of these students were Sino-Thai. Because government service, which used to be the standard career of university graduates, was unable to absorb the large influx of graduates, they found jobs in the private sector, jobs that paid better.
The emerging well-educated Sino-Thai middle class both in the capital and provincial cities became more self-assured and began to question received truths about the place and social station of the Sino-Thai in Thai society and culture. The global economy penetrating into Thailand also benefited large business families active in banking, low-level manufacturing, import-and-export business, retail sales, and hotels and resorts. Most of these business families happened to be Sino-Thai families. These socio-economic changes also had an effect on the production of texts about the Chinese in Thailand.
The author of the next two novels, Praphatsorn Sewikun, tells us that he is Thai, but we also know that he has Chinese relatives. He also says that he read Chinese novels to his maternal grandmother, and as a youth enjoyed studying the Thai version of Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Therefore, it is very likely that Praphatsorn represents many modern Thai with Chinese ancestry who no longer admit to being or to feeling Sino-Thai.
The first novel which we will examine, Lod lai mangkorn Through the dragon design , was written while Praphatsorn was serving in the Thai embassy in Turkey and published in Because of its popularity, this novel, like the two examined earlier, was also made into a television drama series, thereby reaching a far greater audience compared to readers of the novel itself. The television series, however, was embraced by its Sino-Thai audience as a more realistic portrayal of the lives of their own families. This novel is not your typical rags-to-riches story as narrated in Letters from Thailand and Life with Grandfather.
It is also a novel about the contemporary. We only learn about the past from what the patriarch of the family tells his children and grandchildren. Only the patriarch and his first two wives and the children born outside Thailand have Chinese or Anglicized names. The rest have Thai names. The novel is about the various members of the Suephanich clan. We are told that Liang Suephanich comes as a young man to Siam in the s, either during the end of the Sixth Reign or the beginning of the Seventh.
He was married in China and had two sons there; they, too, are brought to Thailand after the Communist victory in China. Subsequently, the China-born sons are sent to Hong Kong to study. Later in life, he marries a young Thai woman from the north and they have a son and a daughter. The novel paints in detail intrigues, fights, tragedies, successes, and lessons about how to conduct business involving the Suephanich clan—all three generations, most of whom live in the same compound.
Starting from work as a coolie, Liang eventually saves enough to open a small import business. He is successful enough to later build a textile factory using outdated machinery from Japan to mill cotton cloth for the Thai market. From manufacturing, Liang expands into finance, founding several financial and investment firms in Hong Kong and in Bangkok. Most of his children work in the family factory and various financial enterprises. The second- and third-generation Suephanich family members are sent to study in Thai schools and universities, and several are sent abroad to Hong Kong and to the United States.
One son even completes a doctorate in business administration from America. We know that Liang is rich because the amounts cited in the novel concerning investments, losses, and profits are in the hundreds of millions of baht. The novel is appealing to the Thai reader because it is well written and accessible. It is especially appealing to the Sino-Thai because it portrays realistically the life history of one family, a history about the Chinese in Thailand that is not constrained by previous political or social concerns.
Kasian Tejapira, the most astute scholar of Sino-Thai studies, finds this novel, and especially its television adaptation, touching in many ways. At one point he loses the major part of a shipment because of a storm. Liang, however, is determined to meet his obligations.
He first delivers what he has recovered to his closest customers; he then borrows money to buy back his goods from them so he could supply the rest of his customers. Because of his honesty, his customers appreciate what he has done and become very loyal to him. Eventually, his European suppliers pay him insurance money to cover his losses. Kasian admits that as a Sino-Thai he had forgotten about the good Chinese values that his parents had taught him—to be lao sik honest , khiam siep thrifty , nu li diligent , and yeun nai persevering.
These honorable Chinese values are represented in the novel by a large painting of an ant that is displayed prominently in the entrance hallway of the Suephanich mansion. Under the painted ant is the Chinese word ngee , written with a brush in gold on red paper. Every day, members of the Suephanich family have to pass by this painting and are reminded about ngee Kasian , The portrayal of the Chinese in literature and the media is usually as lower-class traders selling coffee, unscrupulous money-hungry businessmen, or comedians in television variety shows who cannot speak proper Thai.
Kasian quotes the heated exchange between the two suitors:. Liang speaking in accented Thai : Every penny you have you get from your parents. How dare you come courting a woman? Sangiam: You are here as a guest of Thailand. How dare you insult a Thai like me? Liang: That is right. I have come to live in Thailand, but I do not depend on you to make a living.
I am ready to kowtow to Thai people who work hard in this land, but I do not respect someone like you.
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Kasian remarks that the exchange, where the subaltern bourgeois Chinese talks back to his elite Thai tormentor, is revolutionary in Thai entertainment culture. Although it is unclear whether Liang speaks with a thick Chinese accent or not in the novel, he does so on television. Kasian reminds us that whether Liang speaks perfect Thai or imperfect Thai is unimportant. The bourgeoisie that Anderson wrote about and the one identified by Kasian both had mastered and conquered the Thai capitalist market and were soon to become major players in the new global economy.
The next logical step for them was to enter politics to contest the allocation of values that were still in the hands of the military and their bureaucratic and political allies. No longer were the Sino-Thai content to be supplicants of the ruling elite; they wanted to be major players in national politics. At this point, I want to focus briefly on another novel by Praphatsorn titled Sing tueng Newly arrived Chinese , which was first serialized in —97 in Sri Sayam magazine. This unusual novel is about Jia, a young Sino-Thai from the provinces who comes to Bangkok to search for his Thai mother.
Jia learns that she is working as a masseuse somewhere in Yaowarat, the Chinatown of Bangkok. In his search, he is given shelter by an elderly blind Chinese woman who sells lottery tickets. Soon after his arrival, Jia falls in with a group of Thai and Chinese gangsters who work for a boss called San Pao Kung, the name synonymous with the famous Muslim eunuch Admiral Cheng Ho.
Jia, who is quite a fearless fighter, is an expert in hand-to-hand combat and the use of all types of weapons. More importantly, he soon gains the respect of the local Thai hoodlums. He is accepted into the brotherhood of gangsters because, like them, he is nakleng. The nakleng code transcends class, profession, and in this case ethnicity to reflect the ideal type of manliness in Thai culture.
The nakleng is a man who is not afraid to take risks, a person who likes to live dangerously. He is also a man who is loyal to his friends but cruel to his enemies, a compassionate man, a gambler, a heavy drinker and smoker, and a lady-killer. Although I will not go into the details of the novel, what is significant is this portrayal of a young Chinese from the provinces as nakleng. Sharing a common Thai cultural trait allowed the Chinese to become easily a part of Thai society.
This depiction of Jia as a Thai nakleng and the epitome of Thai manliness can be seen as a subversion of the traditional concept of luk phuchai , or manliness, in canonical Thai prose fiction. The real man in that novel is a man from a working-class family who does well enough in school to win a government scholarship to study abroad. But before he leaves for Europe to study, he gives up courting a beautiful and idealistic upper-class woman so his best friend can marry her.
After his return as a nakrian nok person who has studied abroad , he becomes an official in the Thai bureaucracy. This narrative helps establish the ideal of the desirable modern Thai man—someone who is a good student, foreign-educated, a senior titled bureaucrat, rich and respected. In Sing teung , the hero is a Sino-Thai from a lower-class background, a nakleng and not a nakrian nok , a gangster and not a bureaucrat. His prize is a poor but good-hearted Sino-Thai girl from Chinatown whose father is a gambler and a drunk, and not the well-heeled daughter of a Thai aristocrat.
The acceptance of the Sino-Thai as the epitome of the Thai nakleng and the embodiment of Thai manliness not an aberration or alternative model is confirmed by the fact that the novel is made into a television drama series and consumed by the Thai public of all races, ethnicities, and backgrounds. Their ethnicity no longer seems problematic in the discourse of Thai-ness in literature or on television. In addition, the Yaowarat in Sing teung is no longer a foreign site; it has become a more familiar one. Chinatown is no longer treated as foreign and dangerous, the way it was portrayed in Lep khrut , where even the police were threatened and had to appear in disguise to blend into that alien site.
Although this section of my essay deviates from the analysis of fiction and turns to texts written by the Sino-Thai about themselves, their business advice, and their lost culture, taken as a whole, they tell us about the mindset of contemporary Sino-Thai who now consider themselves part and parcel of Thai society.
The Sino-Thai have become comfortable with their place in and contribution to Thailand and are ready to reclaim their Chinese heritage within the context of modern Thai culture. The blurring of lines between what is Thai and what is Sino-Thai, and the significance or the necessity of the dichotomy are now less critical to understanding the dynamics of culture, politics, and even the economy of contemporary Thailand.
For example, when Forbes magazine listed Thai billionaires like the owner and founder of the Red Bull energy drink or the chairman of the Charoen Phokaphan international conglomerate, the magazine did not indicate that these men are Sino-Thai. Furthermore, recent Thai prime ministers such as Thanin Kraiwixien and Banharn Silapa-acha had Chinese parents, but that did not prevent them from taking on the top political position in Thailand.
If the racial background of these two men has proved unproblematic in politics, then one is hard-pressed to equate Chineseness with the likes of prime ministers Chuan Leekphai, Thaksin Shinawat, or Yingluck Shinawat. The recent production of texts about the Chinese in Thailand indicates that the Sino-Thai have shrugged off their cultural amnesia and have recovered their self-confidence to publish an endless string of books about their own history, their struggles, and their successes.
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These authors see themselves as Thai, descendants of Chinese immigrants interested in their historical roots. They may visit and write about their ancestral home but only as curious tourists and as amateur historians piecing together family histories. Although a lot can be said about the recent inundation of texts about the Sino-Thai, for the purposes of this essay, it should suffice to highlight just a few examples. The book developed from the cremation volume for prominent businessman Suwit Wanglee It was first serialized in the Sayam Araya magazine in and published as a book in The book is about the contributions of the Wanglee-Lamsam families to the development of Thai capitalism, from trading in rice to the opening of banks.
Just as revealing are charts showing how intermarriage and family alliances among the Sino-Thai have created a network of relations that facilitated and enhanced major business ventures. This special ability to close ranks and to pool resources allowed the Sino-Thai business families to displace foreign competitors, especially in the banking and financial service sectors, following the conclusion of World War II. The book also features an acknowledgement from Crown Princess Sirindhorn and an introduction by Nidhi Eoseewong.
The princess endorses the notion that the Wanglee-Lamsam clan has played a pivotal role in the establishment of Thai capitalism. She agrees that the new Sino-Thai capitalists have already displaced the old Sino-Thai families absorbed into the official class under absolute monarchy. He asserts that the book allows the Chinese in Thailand, who at one time were considered outsiders, to rightfully claim that a major part of their heritage is firmly embedded in Thai society. According to Nidhi, the book encourages the descendants of the Chinese to consciously accept their rightful place in Thai society; at the same time, non-Chinese readers would be forced to consciously accept the important place the Sino-Thai have and the critical role they played in Thai history and culture.
These books are about historical Chinese families who served as royal officials dating back to the Ayutthaya and early Rattanakosin periods. Phimpraphai illustrates how the relationship between the Crown and the elite Chinese families was strengthened through marriage. Thai kings frequently took the daughters of rich Chinese families as wives and concubines. Most of these families have been fully assimilated and are now an integral part of the Thai power elite. Chitra has written at least four other books that focus on Sino-Thai culture.
And even though the books are about Chinese culture, they have received awards from national book organizations. They are guidebooks about how to become culturally Chinese again. Paradoxically, the books are written in Thai to explain Chinese culture to the Sino-Thai, who must now read about their ancestral culture in an adopted mother tongue whose transliteration of Chinese words is not always accurate. It is as if the Sino-Thai now speak and think Chinese with a Thai accent, unlike their ancestors who did the opposite.
In addition, the wide popularity of the books indicates that Sino-Thai culture has also been embraced by the larger Thai public. In the past decade or so, numerous biographies of Thai billionaires have also appeared in bookstores. Increased interest in the lives of the Sino-Thai encouraged others to write about themselves or to translate stories of their ancestors written in Chinese. Because members of this exclusive club are mostly Sino-Thai, some these books use Chao Sua , the Chinese term for very rich people, in their titles.
Translated texts on business practices and theories, which used to be of influential American and European authors, bankers, and industrialists, have been recently replaced by business advice from prominent Sino-Thai businessmen. Ironically, the change in focus from American and European business practices to practical Chinese business and warfare strategies has restored the Thai appreciation of the Chinese and Chinese culture as the fountain of wisdom.
Since late Ayutthaya and early Bangkok, the Thai elite have relied upon lessons imbedded in Sam Kok , the Thai version of Romance of the Three Kingdoms , to guide their actions. In fact, literate Thai know Sam Kok quite well because it was required reading in school. It should be noted here that in most of the novels about the Chinese, Sam Kok is frequently invoked.
I would like to end my textual analysis by highlighting two texts that prepared the way for two Sino-Thai businessmen to participate in national politics. These texts are the autobiographies of Thaksin Shinawat, Ta du dao thao tid din Eyes on the stars, feet on the ground Wallaya , and Sonthi Limthongkul, Tong phae kon thi chana One must lose before winning Autobiographies highlight what the authors want others to know about them and what they consider important.
In these two cases, they tell us about their family roots that can be traced back to Chinese immigrants. Both became rich through the mastery of telecommunications and the media in the new global economy. In preparing for his run in politics, Thaksin published a life story portraying himself not as a Bangkok insider but as really a boy with Chinese roots from Chiangmai. He tells readers that his ancestors were Hakka who had come to Thailand from China probably in the s. His great-grandfather, like many Chinese businessmen, became a tax farmer. There, the family opened a modest coffee shop, became involved in the production and sale of silk, ran movie theatres, and even operated a car dealership.
Yet he openly acknowledges his Chinese ancestry, perhaps to show that he came by his entrepreneurial talents honestly. Even though he followed a preferred Thai career path of attending the military preparatory school and the Police Academy, and eventually being commissioned as a police officer, Thaksin always operated a business on the side. When he eventually resigned his commission, he used his government connections to obtain concessions to supply the police department with computers.
He later formed a company that sold beepers and mobile phones. Thaksin hints that because of his Chinese business background, he was able to tolerate risks and large debts and eventually turn his enterprises into successful entities. The autobiography emphasizes his upbringing as a normal Thai whose father was a Member of Parliament, whose uncle and cousins were senior military officers, and whose father-in-law was a police general. For all purposes, in spite of his Chinese ancestry, it is hard to consider Thaksin a Sino-Thai. Therefore, Sonthi admits that he is three-quarters Chinese, but he is unable to read or write Chinese.
He returned to Thailand an idealist ready to change the world and to rid Asia of Western domination. The traumatic experience of October 6, , where left-leaning students were massacred and driven to join the CPT in the countryside, convinced Sonthi that he should focus on political change in Thailand first. He began work at Prachathipatai Democracy , a progressive paper which was eventually closed by the reactionary Thanin government. He soon expanded his business into a media publishing group, eventually owning 12 newspapers and several magazines in Asia and the United States.
Sonthi also was a television talk-show host who supported Thaksin until a business disagreement led to their falling out. Sonthi then used his talk show to attack Thaksin at first but later took his show on the road. He is still considered a Thai royalist and conservative, a very strange trajectory for someone who was once active in the anti-war movement in the United States and who supported the cause of leftist students in the mids.
From this short and discursive study of the production of Thai language texts about the Chinese, I can conclude that targeting the local Chinese as the dangerous Other Within by King Vajiravudh had some effect on how the Sino-Thai were perceived, but not as much as one would have thought. It seems that the king was only using his admonition to remind the Chinese to be grateful and to assimilate into Thai society. We have seen how his policies and those of following governments facilitated the assimilation process.
I have shown that there is minimal anti-Chinese sentiment in Thai literature and texts. If texts and literature are contextual representations of social values or reflect social perceptions, then they tell us that the Sino-Thai are seen as natural and integral to Thai society. We have witnessed how major Thai authors write about the Sino-Thai. And though he demonized the Chinese at first in Jews of the Orient , Vajiravudh soon ameliorated his position in Huajai chainum.
And in the case of Phanom Thian, who demonized the Chinese as enemies of the Thai state, he identified the villains as the external Chinese and foreign secret-society members. In Lep khrut , the police and Thai state authorities were obligated to protect Sino-Thai businessmen. Nevertheless, these Thai authors knew little and said little about the real-life stories of the Chinese. Not until the appearance of Sino-Thai authors like Botan and Yok Burapha were fictionalized but realistic accounts of the Chinese experience revealed to the public.
Their pioneering novels about the Chinese still seemed rather tentative in claiming a rightful space in the conscious construction of Thai history, culture, and society. In fact, the two novels, Letters from Thailand and Life with Grandfather , continued to pay lip service to the official interpellation of the Sino-Thai as grateful, humble, and subservient immigrants in a generous new country. By the s, however, the Sino-Thai and their offspring had become better educated and wealthier.
With wealth and education came the need to exercise their right to speak out on issues important to their lives. The rise of the modern Thai middle class in the last decades of the twentieth century was closely linked to the prosperity of the Sino-Thai. It was only then that the hitherto subaltern Chinese began speaking out as members of the power elite. Not only have the descendants of the Sino-Thai become prime ministers but they have also penetrated the upper echelons of the military and civilian bureaucracies, university faculties, and the banking and manufacturing sectors, and are among the wealthiest families in Thailand today.
Ironically, members of the Sino-Thai middle class, like their Thai counterparts, have had very little contact with the majority of Thai, who exist in an agrarian society. It is no wonder that this middle class is a conservative one that continues to rely on the monarchy to put an official imprimatur on its status. The production of texts written by Sino-Thai authors about themselves, their struggles, and their successes are now consumed by all Thai readers, and more than likely embraced as a natural part of Thai social and cultural history.
Compared to the literature produced by other diaspora communities such as Asian Americans, the literature written by the Sino-Thai lack the edgy resentment found in early Chinese American novels and the feeling that it is somehow inferior. Furthermore, Sino-Thai literature is void of the Filipino American lament of exile and non-acceptance by the host community.
I have made the case that the exigencies and changing conditions of both local and world politics and economy, and changing social conditions have affected the representation of the Sino-Thai in textual production over the last century. The Sino-Thai are no longer considered the dangerous Other Within, and even when they were portrayed as such, that condition was short-lived. From a dangerous Other Within forced to become a meek and grateful subaltern, the Sino-Thai eventually found their voices when, as a community, they became better educated and wealthier.
Assimilation helped to parry discrimination based on race to allow the Sino-Thai to easily become Thai. Thai and Sino-Thai have ceased to be critical analytical categories in contemporary Thai studies. Thai assimilation policies also forced the Chinese and their offspring to become Thai by giving them Thai first names and changing or masking their clan names with Thai surnames.
The closing or control of Chinese schools eventually obliterated instruction of the Chinese language, history, and culture in favor of state-sanctioned Thai language and Thai classes. The various Chinese dialect groups soon spoke the new common language that is Thai, and their Chinese writing system was replaced by Thai script. The closing of open immigration eventually isolated and distanced the Sino-Thai from their ancestral home and culture. In addition, the granting of citizenship gave native-born Sino-Thai equal political rights, benefits which prompted even those born in China to become naturalized.
We have already seen the success of official nationalism, which reminded the Chinese to be grateful and loyal to the king, and other reasons why the rich and successful Sino-Thai have become ardent royalists. Furthermore, Chinese identity based on patrilineal lineage and ancestry quickly broke down because of intermarriage with the Thai, who practice a bilateral kinship system. Such was the case illustrated by Kim Nguan. In terms of religion as an obstacle to assimilation, even early European travelers have noted that when the Chinese arrived in Thailand, most adapted easily to Thai Buddhism, Thai animistic beliefs, and other cultural practices similar to Chinese ones.
In short, the assimilation of the Chinese was a process in which the Sino-Thai became Thai citizens, assumed Thai names, spoke and wrote Thai, practiced Buddhism or rituals associated with it, and professed a love for the Thai monarch and nation. We have also seen through the evidence of literature and other textual production that the ethnic Thai were at the same time educated through novels, texts, guidebooks, and manuals to appreciate Chinese hard work, business acumen, and contributions to Thai national prosperity.
The consumption of texts about Chinese practices, shrines, and temples indicates that the Thai have also embraced Chinese religious practices and worship at Chinese temples. And far from being treated as alien space, Sampheng is now part and parcel of Thai society, an important commercial center and promoted as a tourist attraction. My necessarily brief analysis suggests that accepting Sino-Thai as an aspect of Thai national identity does not diminish that identity, nor does accepting a Thai identity diminish the pride in ancestral cultural ties of the Sino-Thai.
Perhaps it is this mutual consciousness that undergirds the assimilation of the Chinese into Thai society. I hope that my initial foray into the subject of literary and textual representations of Chineseness would lead other colleagues to conduct similar exercises. In particular, I am interested to know how the Chinese have been represented in fiction and non-fictional texts in neighboring countries, especially the Philippines, Indonesia, Burma, Laos, and Cambodia, where the assimilation of the Chinese has also occurred. I wonder what has happened in neighboring countries where the distinction between the native son— pribumi or bumiputera —and the locally born Chinese— peranakan —still exists.
As the dichotomy between the Thai and the Sino-Thai has become less distinct as inflected in textual production, will or can the peranakan ever become pribumi or bumiputera in Indonesia and Malaysia? Are the Philippines, Laos, Cambodia, and Burma cases similar to the Thai example or are they different? I also recognize that there are methodological issues, especially authorship and ethnic identification; debates about Chinatown as racial ghetto, privilege space, or contact zone; the use of literature to illuminate social reality and values; and the linearity of my narrative that smoothes over resistance and bumps along the way.
How to determine who is Thai and who is Sino-Thai can also be problematic—When does a person relinquish or stop being Sino-Thai? My own designation is somewhat arbitrary if not heuristic , based on some knowledge of their ancestral background, what they say about their familiarity with Chinese culture, and self-identification. Bangkok: Good Morning. Anderson, Benedict. Withdrawal Symptoms. London: Verso.
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