Making a ‘free world’ city
DOI link for Making a ‘free world’ city
Making a ‘free world’ city book
Throughout the 1950s, the United States exploited Bangkok’s urban consumer culture to promote the benefits of Free World membership. In particular, regular trade shows in the Thai capital were adopted by the United States as important adversarial space from which the Cold War could be won both by promoting American modernity and convincing Thais of the benevolent nature of US interest in the region. From 1958, following a revolution that committed Thailand to an alliance with the United States, the Thai state itself mobilised cultural resources to present the Thai–US relationship as one which benefitted Thailand’s urban class. One part of this campaign was the assertion that it was in the interest of Bangkok’s consumers to defend the country against communism. To achieve this, spaces were created that identified the promotion of Thai culture with “Free World” membership. The proliferation of art galleries, tourist spectacles, handicraft showrooms, hotels and shopping centres all provided new spaces from which to understand the Cold War. This chapter will explore these spaces as important sites of an emerging “Free World” culture globally. It will consider how these spaces provided pathways through the city, upon which various forms of diplomatic engagement associated with Free World membership might occur.