In the preface to In Plain Sight: Impunity and Human Rights in Thailand
(University of Wisconsin Press, 2018) Tyrell Haberkorn
asks, echoing Pakavadi Veerapaspong, if and when it might one day be possible to write a book on “memories of dictatorship” in Thailand. Concluding that today a clear end to dictatorship is not in sight, she invokes Howard Zinn to insist that nevertheless, “We must not accept the memory of states as our own… it is the job of thinking people, as Albert Camus has suggested, not to be on the side of the executioners”. It is in this spirit that she takes up the task of writing a history of impunity: one that “aims to explicitly challenge the repressive organs of the state and their ongoing evasion of accountability”.
How she pursues that aim and what she uncovers is the topic of this New Books in Southeast Asian Studies
interview, in which Tyrell talks about Thailand’s exemplary injustice cascade, distinguishes a history of impunity from a history of human rights abuse, and reflects on her experiences of reading for state violence in state archives.
Listeners of this episode might also be interested in Tyrell talking on her first book, Revolution Interrupted: Farmers, Students, Law and Violence in Northern Thailand
; and, Sam Moyn on The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History.
Nick Cheesman is a fellow at the College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University and currently a visiting research scholar at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University. He co-hosts the New Books in Southeast Asian Studies channel with Patrick Jory.