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The Whole World Was WatchingSport in the Cold War$
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Robert Edelman and Christopher Young

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781503610187

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9781503610187.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM STANFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.stanford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Stanford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in SSO for personal use.date: 23 May 2022

New Regional Order

New Regional Order

Sport, Cold War Culture, and the Making of Southeast Asia

(p.189) 12 New Regional Order
The Whole World Was Watching

Simon Creak

Stanford University Press

Despite being minnows on the world stage, Thailand and the newly independent countries of Southeast Asia embraced sport during the Cold War as a means of nation and region building. This essay examines the political dimensions of the South East Asia Peninsular Games—the precursor of today’s Southeast Asian Games—founded in 1959 by US ally Thailand. This event reflected and reinforced the Cold War culture of Thailand and Southeast Asia. The games embodied motifs of regional friendship and antagonism between the “free” anti-Communist and neutralist nations of peninsular Southeast Asia; domestically, they embodied key themes in the domestic Cold War culture of Thailand, including nationalism, developmentalism, the revival of the monarchy, and militarization. This essay examines the Thai military junta’s objectives in founding the event, the effectiveness of the inaugural South East Asia Peninsular (SEAP) Games, and the cultural and semiotic features that reinforced the games’ major themes.

Keywords:   Southeast Asia, Thailand, Vietnam, regionalism, decolonization, nationalism, anti-Communism, South East Asia Peninsular (SEAP) Games, Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, Olympics

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