Journal of Social Sciences

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The article employs the notion of 'forced choice' to reflect on and interrogate four key theoretical dilemmas in the IR scholarship in Thailand: (1) whether Thai IR is an art of the state or an academic discipline; (2) whether it is a 'problem-solving' or 'critical' theory; (3) whether there is a Thai IR theory; and (4) whether it should be a consensual field of study. It makes a case for a refusal of these forced choices. By engaging with a disciplinary history and autobiographical narrative (I, IR), the article suggests (1) the brief development of Thai IR, which has been dominated by the dual hegemony of area studies and realist-liberal theoretical continuum; (2) two 'great debates' including the first policy-oriented one in the 1980s and the second great debate with the emergence of critical theory since the early 2000s; (3) seven theses explaining a lack of Thai IR theory; and (4) a debate between consensus and dissensus. The article recommends skepticism of consensus, critical self-reflexivity, a dialogue with global IR, and a more pluralistic and dissensual field of IR in Thailand.

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