IJLLL 2019 Vol.5(1): 19-24 ISSN: 2382-6282
DOI: 10.18178/IJLLL.2019.5.1.199

Transformation of Thai Society: Critiquing American Imperialism through S.P. Somtow‟s Jasmine Nights

Kittiphong Praphan
Abstract—The U.S. power had risen in Southeast Asia during the Indochina War which later developed to be the Vietnam War. While the Americans physically fought in Vietnam, other countries in this region were also affected by military activities and other issues associated with American Imperialism. The escalation of the war and the power contest between the superpowers brought about a myriad of changes in Southeast Asia, including Thailand. In Jasmine Nights, Somtow employs American Imperialism and the Vietnam War as the backdrop of the story, which portrays negative consequences of this domination in Thai society. The identities of the major characters are also constructed by American Imperialism. Through this paper, I argue that Jasmine Nights functions as a channel through which Somtow critiques American Imperialism by illustrating that the social and economic structures of Thailand is transformed by American people as well as the American government which tries to penetrate into this region for military, political, and economic advantages. This transformation gives way to capitalism to prosper and control the economy of the country, while the gap between the rich and the poor is widened, and the traditional way of life is altered. Somtow deploys this novel as a tool to create a postcolonial counter-discourse in order to give voice to and speak for Thai people—the so-call colonized subjects in the era of neocolonialism—to indicate that an important root of the social and economic transformation in Thailand is American Imperialism. In addition, this novel serves as a self-representation of Thai people who, under Western epistemic domination, lack power to represent themselves.

Index Terms—American imperialism, Asian American literature, postcolonial writing, social transformation.

Kittiphong Praphan is with Department of Western Languages and Linguistics, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Mahasarakham University, Thailand (e-mail: kittiphong.p@msu.ac.th).

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Cite:Kittiphong Praphan, "Transformation of Thai Society: Critiquing American Imperialism through S.P. Somtow‟s Jasmine Nights," International Journal of Languages, Literature and Linguistics vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 19-24, 2019.

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