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The 1903 jubilee of King Chulalongkorn through the eyes of Alfred Raquez | A Talk by William L. Gibson

In 1903, French journalist and explorer Alfred Raquez visited Bangkok to cover the jubilee of King Chulalongkorn for the Hanoi-based newspaper L’Avenir du Tonkin, leaving one of the most detailed accounts of the pageantry of the celebrations, which has unfortunately been all but forgotten. However vivid his descriptions, they must also be read against the background of French-Siamese political tensions of the time, tensions that continue to have an impact on Thailand’s relations with its neighbors of former Indochina. This presentation will discuss Raquez’s coverage of King Chulalongkorn’s jubilee as 1) a historical artifact of French colonial posturing at the fin-de-siècle; 2) a descriptive travelogue that offers a vivid portrait of the event; 3) a source for traces of biographical information about the elusive Raquez himself.


About the speaker

Dr William L. Gibson is an author and researcher based in Southeast Asia. He holds a PhD from the University of Leeds (UK). William’s commercial articles on the region have appeared in Signal to Noise and The Mekong Review, among others, and his academic articles have been published in Archipel, History and Anthropology, and the Bulletin de l’École française d’Extrême-Orient. In the Land of Pagodas and Laotian Pages, scholarly translations with Paul Bruthiaux of Alfred Raquez’s travels through China and Laos at the turn of the century, are published by NIAS Press. His trilogy of hard-boiled crime novels set in 1890s Singapore and Malaya are published by Monsoon Books.

This is a free online lecture. The Siam Society Members who pre-register may watch on Zoom and participate in the Q&A. Others may watch the live transmission on The Siam Society Facebook and YouTube pages


Thursday, 25 November 2021 at 16:00 (Bangkok time)


Online (Available by Zoom, Facebook Live, and YouTube Live)


Free of charge

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