Image-Formation at a Nation’s Edge: Thai Perceptions of its Border Dispute with Cambodia - Implications for South Asia
Frontier friction has been a recurring phenomenon in much of the world, including in South and Southeast Asia. Yet the social construction of antagonistic border perceptions offers lessons about how not to frame a country's views of its neighbors. Though boundary disputes in South Asia are currently much more muted than in the past, this investigation provides a message for South Asia that ultra-patriotism over borders continues to endanger inter-state relations in other parts of Asia and can always rear its head again in South Asia. It is thus essential to examine the case of Thai perceptions towards its border with Cambodia to understand the clash between nationalist and moderate societal groups. The objective is to learn from this case that excessive border patriotism is ultimately harmful to national interests. This study focuses specifically on Thai perceptions toward the Thai-Cambodian border disputes with three questions in mind. First, how have Thai elite actor perceptions evolved toward their present state? Second, what appears to be hindering a more moderate Thai stance with regard to parts of its border conflict with Cambodia? Third, what implications are there from Thai-Cambodian border conflicts, if any, and what patterns can we generalize out of Thai border perceptions which might have implications for South and Southeast Asia? This study, focusing on image formation of boundaries, seeks to answer these questions.
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