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Nationalism and the transformation of aesthetic concepts: Theatre in Thailand during the Phibun period.


Prime Minister Plaek Phibun Songkhram (1938-1944, 1948- 1957) exploited nationalism to legitimize his political rule and introduced a national cultural policy aimed at changing the aesthetics, ethics, manners, and behavior of the Thai people. His policy reflected both his military background and his middle class world view of building a civilized nation under strong leadership. Laws, guidelines, and government directives were issued. The National Institute of Culture was established to supervise the cultural lifestyle of the Thai people. Mass media and art forms were exploited to popularize his policy, which was anti-monarchical, anti-Chinese, pro-western, and indigenous-oriented.