BUADAENG Din - CESSMA - Centre d’études en sciences sociales sur les mondes africains, américains et asiatiques


Histoire de la Première Guerre Mondiale, histoire culturelle de la Thaïlande, Memory studies
Financement du gouvernement royal de Thaïlande (2017-2020)
Contact : dinbuadaeng@hotmail.com

Sujet de Thèse

Memories, Commemorations and Sites of Memories : The First World War in the Contemporary Thai History (1919-2017)

Directeur de thèse : Claire TRAN THI LIEN, CESSMA - Université Paris Diderot et Maurizio PELEGGI, Professor, National University of Singapore

Résumé de thèse

Few would know that Siam, the name of Thailand at that time, has send troupes to participate in World War I in Europe. In 1917, Siam declared war against the Central Powers, and sent 1,284 men to France at the end of 1918. They were mostly truck drivers and pilots, only the drivers however were fortunate enough to serve the Allies, especially during the occupation of Germany, after the Armistice in November 1918. It was indeed a political mission : France saw the opportunity to increase its influence in Siam by inviting the Siamese troupes to participate in the War, whereas Siam saw the War as a chance to renegotiate the unequal treaties signed with Western countries from the mid-19th century. At the end of the War, it was a win-win situation for both countries. Although the role of the 1,284 Siamese volunteers might have been insignificant during the War, the victorious status obtained thanks to them had major symbolic significance : Siam managed to reaffirm itself as a civilized and independent nation. This point was made clear to the Western representatives as Siam became a founding member of the League of Nations and managed to rewrite most of the unequal treaties. On the other hand, France welcomed many Siamese students to its universities and schools as well as increased its influence considerably in the Siamese Ministry of Justice and in the Siamese Aviation. It was a new opportunity for France since the Franco-Siamese war in 1893 which put the country in a bad light in the eyes of the Siamese.

Even fewer would know of what is left of World War I in nowadays Thailand. Despite the fact that the country greatly benefitted politically as a result of its victory in the War, Thailand’s participation in the War is neglected today not only by most Thais but also by the country’s academia. In this work, I am interested not in the event of World War I itself, but rather in the memories of World War I in Thailand from the year 1919 to 2017. The thesis starts in 1919 since it is the year that King Rama VI proposed the idea of constructing a monument for the dead volunteers of World War I. It is also the year that the last group of volunteers returned from Europe. The year 2017 is chosen to end this thesis since from the year 2014 to 2017, many commemorations, conferences, and exhibitions are hosted to commemorate the centenary of the War in 2014 and the centenary of the Siamese declaration of War in 2017. To sum up, this thesis is an attempt to explain the perceptions and memories of the Siamese participation in First World War through different means, namely monuments, commemorations, institutions, and popular memory.


- « The Siamese volunteers of the First World War : an experience of a “bureaucratic bourgeoisie” in Europe (1917 – 1920) », 13th International conference on Thai studies, université de Chiang Mai, Thaïlande. juillet 2017

- Modérateur du lancement du livre « Thailand’s theory of Monarchy : The Vessantara Jataka and the idea of the perfect man par Patrick Jory », juillet 2017

- « The Siamese participation in the First World War and its role in Europe », financé par l’UFR Géographie, Histoire, Sciences de la Société (GHSS), Université Paris Diderot, colloque Association of Southeast Asian Studies Conference (ASEASUK) 2016 à SOAS, Londres, septembre 2016

- « Le réseau des étudiants militants Thaïlandais en Europe pour la démocratie » colloque Military and the referendum, l’université de Bonn, Allemagne, juin 2016

- « Defending the Dharma of the world : Siamese soldiers in World War I (1917-1920) », colloque EUROSEAS (European Association for Southeast Asian Studies), Université de Vienne, Autriche, aout 2015