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By Marc Askew

Bangkok is one among Asia's finest, various, arguable and tough towns. it's a urban of contradictions, either in its current and prior. This special ebook examines the improvement of town from its earliest days because the seat of the Thai monarchy to its present place as an notorious modern city. Adopting insights from anthropology, city reviews and human geography, this is a robust account of the town and its dynamic areas. Marc Askew examines the city's style from the inner-city slums to the rural-urban fringe, and provides us a willing perception into the lifestyle of the city's population, be they middle-class suburbanites or intercourse employees.

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Extra resources for Bangkok: Place, Practice and Representation (Asia's Global Cities, 1)

Sample text

This capital region has been appropriately described as ‘the inner core’ (Wilson 1970: 51). The traditional Siamese state was essentially a confederation of muang (polities) centred on cities. Its territorial organisation was founded on a hierarchical ranking of these centres (huamuang) and their subordinate settlements (muang khun). They surrounded the capital region, extending from inner to outer rings, and functioned to protect this core. Rulers of these cities were technically appointed by the king (although positions were often in fact hereditary) and enjoyed wide prerogatives over manpower control and taxation.

Barnes and Duncan 1992; Shields 1996). It is important to acknowledge that representations of urban space and meaning are not the exclusive preserve of power regimes – rather there are alternative ways of representing the city and its spaces. In this book I have identified a number of alternative representations of space and territory among subordinate urban groups, and among recent middle-class movements which contest dominant representations of the nature of communities and of history. In Bangkok, as elsewhere throughout the world, the urban has become a critical site where power is contested through representations.

Widely dispersed beyond the walled citadel across a terrain of lush tropical vegetation, the population of Bangkok and its surrounds was consistently overestimated by foreign observers. In the mid-nineteenth century, Bangkok was estimated to have boasted only between 50,000– 100,000 people (Terwiel 1989: 233). A notable feature of early Bangkok’s urbanism was the coexistence and interaction of the three dimensions comprising the city: the royal citadel, its trading areas, and its mosaic of villages and yan connected by canals and river through nodal points of activity, such as floating markets of various sizes and importance.

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