“Phromsaral”: Development the Making of Border Community Identity From traditional community to community of the Thai with Khmer heart

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Kanogvan Raluk


The Phomsaral community is located in the vicinity of the  Preah Vihear temple. During the period 2008-2012, it was impacted by the actions of a group of people calling themselves patriotic Thai, who demanded that the Phrea Vihear temple to be returned to Thailand and viciously referred to the Phomsaral community as "unpatriotic Thai/Thai with Khmer hearts." This article examines three key aspects of this phenomenon, namely: 1) how the community identity of Phomsaral was constructed; 2) patriotic identity as defined by the people of the Phomsaral community; and 3) how the people of Phomsaral community have been impacted by the conflict calling for Pheah Vihear to be returned to Thailand. The analysis used the discursive approach to representation of Stuart Hall, 1997. Data were collected through informal interviews and discussions with 97 identifiable key informants and a number of anonymous key informants and through participant and non-participant observation over a period of one-and-a-half years. The study found that the community identity over the past six decades changed in the following ways: (1) “traditional community”  (C.E. 1941-1949);  (2) “patriotic buffering village” (C.E. 1949-1989); (3) “tourism economy village” (C.E. 1989-2008); and (4) “unpatriotic Thai and Thai with Khmer hearts” (C.E. 2008-2012). The fourth identity was constructed because of the  political conditions that aroused a nationalistic, patriotic fervor among a group of people who define themselves as “patriotic Thai.” This group’s actions caused the Phromsaral people to suffer from clashes between Thai and Cambodian soldiers. Their houses and agricultural fields were damaged and the people had to run for their lives, leaving them in a poor mental health state, unable to live and make a living normally and peacefully. The community and the country as a whole have lost income from tourism while the relationship between Thailand and Cambodia has become antagonistic. 


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Raluk, K. (1). “Phromsaral”: Development the Making of Border Community Identity From traditional community to community of the Thai with Khmer heart. Journal of Mekong Societies, 9(2), 139-166. Retrieved from https://so03.tci-thaijo.org/index.php/mekongjournal/article/view/11076