Organized Panel Session
The interwar years was a period in which regime leaders on this side of the Pacific were scrambling to emulate the correct Western model of development and/or nation-building. It might be the enlightening and civilizing colonial reforms as presented by the French in Indochina. Or liberation from the oriental feudalistic past as the Nationalist Chinese claimed to have succeeded in after the revolution that overthrew the Qing Dynasty in 1911. Or the claims of Siam’s absolute monarchs in the early-20th century to have civilized the Siamese elite according to the genteel manners of the British colonial officers. Or the liberation from feudalistic past plus European imperialist influences by emulating the Asian story that was Japan and her non-colonizing European allies as demonstrated by the seemingly progressive women’s policies of Thailand’s Phibunsongkhram government in the years leading up to the Second World War. Nonetheless, these highly westernized models have not always produced the most progressive results. Some led to a disastrous collapse of fascist militarist regimes. Some resulted in even more detrimental dependency of the colonized towards the colonizers. Others end up in devastating defeats in post-Second World War civil wars. All (in this panel) by the end of the war, unfortunately, arrived at the same depressing interwar position of needing to continue learning ‘modernization’ and ‘nation-building’ correctly from the West.