Source: AP

Source: AP

A professor detained for his thoughts

7 June 2017

Article originally written by Yukti Mukdawijitra.

Note: On 29 April, a university professor was arrested as part of a sweep of six individuals accused of committing lèse majesté by posting to Facebook. He has been denied bail, as most are in these cases. Last week, Yukti Mukdawijitra, an anthropology professor at Thammasat University went to visit him. What follows are his reflections on their conversation, which was first published in Thai in his usual blog column for Prachatai.—trans.

“The sky is more expansive inside than it is outside. One can nearly see the horizon.”

This was the first sentence that my academic colleague, who is being detained for his thoughts, uttered after we greeted one another. I was secretly surprised and delighted that the professor had moved beyond fear to experience a new and strange horizon, even though he is inside a constricted space.

This was the first time that I had the opportunity to visit the professor after his right to bail was denied. This is a right that one should enjoy before a final judgment is made in one’s case. If you are familiar with this type of case, you will understand that what I was saying was not far from true.

The professor spoke rapidly and was jittery when we first began chatting. He explained the that the routine he experienced from waking in the morning to going to sleep each evening was designed to make anyone subject to it into “exactly what Foucault referred to as the docile body.”

As the professor relaxed, he became more eloquent and animated. His eyes sparkled like those of an anthropology student just returned from fieldwork in a far off land overseas.

“There are many cats inside and they all sleep together in one corner. Some of the prisoners do not like cats.”

To read the entire article by Yukti Mukdawijitra visit the Prachatai website.

(This article was translated by Tyrell Haberkorn)

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