Writing Rights into Thailand's History with Photography

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Photography is a recognized medium to spread information about atrocities and to raise awareness about human rights issues. Photography is also widely used by political actors and social move- ments to construct an image of themselves and their causes. The political potential of photography is closely connected to the role of the visual in the public. The language of photography is at the same time symbolic and factual, making it a problematic material in the study of history. Photography can further be sites of both per- sonal and collective memory, with the image belonging to the spec- tators and never only to the intent of the photographer, the photo- graphed or the disseminator of images. The visual media gives the spectator a sense of immediate access to different times and spaces, opening up for the possibility to connect events that in written his- tory might be disconnected. Visual tropes, such as gendered roles, dichotomy of enemy and heroes, and collective belonging, make photography a brick in the construction of comprehensive histories. This is a study of how photography from different political events in Thailand’s history is used in writing history within a human rights paradigm. The study begins in early 1970s when social movements on a broad political scale in Thailand adopted the language of human rights and also began to use photography to a larger extent than before in writing their own history.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • History


  • Thailand, photography, history, memory, human rights, social movements
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-247
JournalWarasan Prawattisat Thammasat /Thammasat Journal of History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Publication categoryResearch

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