Sinae Hyun

Dec 1, 2023

Indigenizing the Cold War

The Border Patrol Police and Nation-Building in Thailand

University of Hawaii Press 2023

Historians have tended to view the Cold War as a global ideological confrontation between an expansionist communist Soviet Union and a capitalist United States which sought to contain communism. And this confrontation was fought out by their proxies in the Third World. But in recent years, a new generation of scholars, many of them from Asian countries that were “hot” battlegrounds for the Cold War, have rethought this paradigm. They give much more agency to local political actors, pursuing local political agendas. 

In her provocative new book, Indigenizing the Cold War: The Border Patrol Police and Nation-Building in Thailand (U Hawaii Press, 2023), Sinae Hyun argues that in the case of Thailand, local political elites skillfully used the Cold War to achieve their own political ends. The book is a case study of Thailand’s Border Patrol Police, a unit which was initially set up with the assistance of the CIA, and which later developed a close relationship with the Thai monarchy. Besides promoting anti-communism, the Border Patrol Police played a key role in nation-building in the rural regions of the country. The Border Patrol Police is also notorious for its involvement in the massacre of leftist students at Thammasat University on October 6, 1976.

Patrick Jory teaches Southeast Asian History in the School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry at the University of Queensland. He can be reached at: p.jory@uq.edu.au.

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Patrick Jory

Patrick Jory teaches Southeast Asian History in the School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry at the University of Queensland. He can be reached at: p.jory@uq.edu.au.

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