Petra Alderman

Feb 1, 2024

Branding Authoritarian Nations

Political Legitimation and Strategic National Myths in Military-Ruled Thailand

Routledge 2023

What does nation-branding mean to you? For many listeners, the term probably conjures up ideas of catchy slogans and international tourism or trade promotion campaigns. Think again. In her new book Branding Authoritarian Nations: Political Legitimation and Strategic National Myths in Military-Ruled Thailand (Routledge, 2023), Petra Alderman examines how a military junta deployed nation-branding in the wake of the May 2014 Thai coup d'état, as means of promoting domestic political legitimacy for a regime that had seized power by force. The junta's methods might have appeared 'soft' - avuncular ranging from prime ministerial broadcasts to catchy rap songs - but the goals were deeply authoritarian, and primary audience for the campaigns were not global investors, but ordinary Thai citizens. Thailand has been by no means unique in deploying the rhetoric of nation-branding in service of suppressing human rights and quashing domestic dissent.

Petra Alderman is Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in Leadership for Inclusive and Democratic Politics and a Research Fellow with the Centre for Elections, Democracy, Accountability and Representation (CEDAR), International Development Department, University of Birmingham, UK. She works in the areas of democracy, authoritarianism, elections, environmental leadership, and promotional politics, has a geographical focus on Southeast Asia, and is fluent in Thai. 

Petra was previously a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies in Copenhagen, and her articles have appeared in Asian Studies Review, Contemporary Southeast Asia, Geopolitics, Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, and Politics.  She can be contacted at p.alderman@bham.ac.uk

Duncan McCargo is Professor of Global Affairs at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, and is best known for his work on the politics of Thailand. Duncan can be reached at duncan.mccargo@ntu.edu.sg.

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Duncan McCargo is an eclectic, internationalist political scientist, and literature buff: his day job is teaching global affairs at NTU in Singapore.

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