Languages of Security in the Asia-Pacific

College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University

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Thai – Chaat

May 27th, 2011 · No Comments · Nation, Thai

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Chaat

Relates to nation

Arguably the most important referent for security thinking in Thailand remains ‘the nation’ (chaat). The word is derived from the Sanskrit Jata which is the same root as most Indian terms for caste. In Thai it carries a sense of racial and national cohesiveness even though Thailand is a remarkably diverse country which has absorbed migrants from many parts of the world, most of all from China. At the same time chaat refers to the various ways that the boundary of the country, and the coherence of its people, can be defended and maintained. This is related to san chaat (nationality) which is a more technical term that suggests certain official privileges (such as a passport) and responsibilities (like voting).

Chaat Thai is a potent, and intrinsically exclusionary, phrase for describing the ingredients that made somebody or something Thai. The key symbols of the nation are the flag (tong chaat) and anthem (plaeng chaat). The difficulty for the Thai authorities is that any significant interrogation of the foundations of the nation tend to result in discomfort about its homogenising nationalistic thrust.

 

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