Missionaries of the Cold War: The Thai Border Patrol Police and Its Nation-Building, 1947-1980

Sinae Hyun

How does the history of a small band of police forces in the border areas of Thailand elucidate the characteristics of the postcolonial nation-building process in Southeast Asia? This presentation will introduce a history of the Thai Border Patrol Police and its missions to observe how the Thai ruling elites indigenized the American Cold War crusade in Southeast Asia while pushing forward Thailand’s national unity and progress between 1947-1980. The first part of the discussion will introduce the historical and political context of the early 1950s in which the U.S. and Thai governments created this paramilitary intelligence police. The second part will discuss the history and characteristics of the Border Patrol Police’s civic action programs in the remote areas of northern Thailand to identify the role this project played in conceiving and extending royal projects from the physical border of Thailand to the mental border of Thainess (khwam pen thai). The presentation will conclude by discussing the ways in which the Border Patrol Police’s transformation into a domestic missionary of royalist nationalism can broaden our understanding of the gradually indigenizing nature of the global Cold War system throughout Southeast Asia.



The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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