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Women's Suffrage in Thailand: A Southeast Asian Historiographical Challenge

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Document pages: 34 pages

Abstract: Although much of the history of women s suffrage has focused on the American and British struggles of the early twentieth century, a newer generation of interdisciplinary scholars is exploring its global trajectory. Fundamental to these cross-cultural comparisons is the establishment of an international timeline of women s suffrage; its order at once shapes and is shaped by its historiography. According to the currently dominant chronology, “Female suffrage began with the 1893 legislation in New Zealand” (Ramirez, Soysal, and Shanahan 1997: 738; see also Grimshaw 1987 [1972]: xiv). In this timeline, “Australia was next to act, in 1902” (ibid.). Despite the geographical location of New Zealand and Australia in greater Southeast Asia, the narrative that accompanies this timeline portrays “first world” women as leading the struggle for suffrage and “third world” women as following their example.1 As Ramirez, Soysal, and Shanahan write, “A smaller early wave of suffrage extensions between 1900 and 1930 occurred mostly in European states. A second, more dramatic wave occurred after 1930” (ibid.). Similarly, Patricia Grimshaw writes, “It was principally in the English-speaking world, in the United States, in Britain and its colonial dependencies, and in the Scandinavian countries that sustained activity for women s political enfranchisement occurred. Other countries eventually followed suit” (1987: xiv).

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