Our debut issue launches on the eve of Thailand’s Mother’s Day, August 12th. The day was chosen in 1976 to commemorate then-Queen Sirikit’s birthday and anoint her as the Mother of the Nation.
Inspired by the activism of “Khana RatsaMom” this year, this collection intervenes in this occasion by bringing to the foreground various roles and contributions of ordinary mothers in the struggle against dictatorship in Thailand in the 2010s. Our four entries include a performance, two poems, an anecdote, and an interview.
Remember the slaying of a volunteer nurse through an art performance featuring her mother Phayao Akahad. Imagine the daily life of anonymous grannies from the village who always show up to the courthouse to see their sons as they walk from the prison van to the courtroom. Make fictive kinship connections to women Red Shirt protesters via a poem by Arnon Nampa. Ponder the inscrutable face of Kanya Theerawut whose activist son has gone missing in exile. And learn from how Sivaporn Panya copes with her imprisonment which led to a host of difficulties for her two teenage sons.
Performance by Red Comrades and friends & FreeArts
Translated by Sudarat Musikawong
Poems by Arnon Nampa
Translated by Peera Songkünnatham
from We subjects, as if mute and blind, have found ourselves at the end of the line
Anecdote by Ratch
Translated by Sulakshana Lamubol
Translation edited by Sutida Wimuttikosol
from In the Land of Madness
Interview by Wajana Wanlayangkul
Translated by Sudkanueng B.
Translation edited by Juthamas Suksod
Mother and Son: Section 112 and the Shattering of a Family
About Sanam Ratsadon
Founded in 2021 by a group of volunteer translators, Sanam Ratsadon offers glimpses into Thai political history through stories that capture the resilience, creativity and voices of commoners.
As an online platform for Thai historical sources in English translation, we collect and promote the writings, art performances, and oral histories that shed light on the lived experience and the linked fate of ordinary people past and present. Each quarterly issue carries a theme. We welcome those who are interested in literary translation and who seek to unearth the people’s histories to join our network by contacting email@example.com. We will keep you posted on upcoming themes!
Why Sanam Ratsadon?
Sanam Ratsadon means Commoners Field. We take this name from pro-democracy activists’ subversive renaming of Sanam Luang, an open-air, historical site located in the heart of old Bangkok. Conceived as a royal field [‘Luang’ literally means ‘royal’], the common people from the middle and lower classes had at various points in time used and enjoyed Sanam Luang for various purposes: as a public space to fly kites, picnic, spend leisure time, sleep, cruise and sell sex, and also to stage political rallies. In recent years, it was fenced up and reserved mainly for state and royal functions. In September 2020, protestors from various activist groups placed a democracy plaque in the field to reclaim it for the masses. That symbol of resistance disappeared overnight.
Sanam Ratsadon is a tribute to the generations who have fought for democracy in Thailand. This website showcases the contest for meanings in public spaces. It also tells and explores Thailand’s history as it questions and builds it from the points of view of commoners.
Logo and banner design by Karnt Thassanaphak