Bangkok emerged from World War II in disarray. Basic goods were in short supply, prices were high, guns flooded into the city, and crime was rampant. The Bangkok-based print media, invigorated with new life after suffering through strict wartime restrictions, reported this chaos daily. Popular afternoon papers and weekly magazines filled their pages with graphic photographs of crime scenes, detailed reports of police investigations, and sensational headlines of violence, providing the kingdom a new idiom to express and understand society’s ills, one that would dominate the country’s press for decades to come. This paper explores the history of crime stories in the Thai press and their effects on the way people think about violence. It shows how crime news emerged in part because of government censorship practices and describes the key role crime has played in the struggle to define fact and fiction.
Speaker: Samson Lim, PhD Candidate, Department of History, Cornell University