Why do leaders change the names they want people to call them? What does it mean to change the name of a political operation or an “event”? Is the rose by any other name still a rose? Rather than discussing the impacts that have been brought about by changing names which has been widely examined elsewhere, this keynote address is an attempt to argue that the politics of naming is earthshaking precisely because of the power embodied within the name itself. It begins with a brief survey of the academic landscape on naming and a touch on the term “celestial axe” born from the womb of Thai law in history. Recent research on southern Thailand-presently plagued with violence- about a government labor project; a peace process operation; and exorcism ritual locally practiced will then be used to illustrate how changes in names engender political reality in terms of the state and its governability. The power of naming itself will then be analyzed using ancient wisdoms which include: the Bible’s narrative of exorcism, the Qur’an’s creation story, and Confucius’ teaching. This paper ends with a story of resistance as a critique of the seemingly omnipotent politics of naming.
Professor Chaiwat Satha-Anand was born on January 25, 1955 in Bangkok, Thailand. He received his Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science from University of Hawaii at Manoa, U.S.A., in 1981. He holds a Bachelor 1st class honors (Politics and Government) from Thammasat University, Bangkok, Thailand, in 1975. He is currently a professor of political science at Thammasat University, and Founder and Director of the Thai Peace Information Centre. He is also Chairperson of the Strategic Nonviolence Commission, Thailand Research Fund.
Professor Chaiwat Satha-Anand's works have been published both in Thailand and abroad. Some of his writings have been translated and published in Arabic, Bahasa Indonesia, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Korean. Recent international research projects which he led and have recently been published include: Chaiwat Satha-Anand and Olivier Urbain (eds.) Protecting the Sacred, Creating Peace in Asia-Pacific (Routledge, 2017-in English); Chaiwat Satha-Anand and Olivier Urbain (eds.) The Promise of Reconciliation? examining violent and nonviolent conflicts in Asia (Routledge, 2017-in English) His latest publications include Nonviolence and Islamic Imperatives (Irene Publishing, 2017-in English), Barangsiapa Memelihara Kehidupan (Mizan, 2016-in Bahasa Indonesia), Appreciating Women in the Life of Nonviolence (Faculty of Economics, Thammasat University, 2015-in Thai). In 2006, he was named "Thailand's Best Researcher in Political Science and Public Administration" by the National Research Council and Thammasat University's Kiratiyajaraya Distinguished Professor. He received the National Sri Burapha Distinguished Writer Award in Bangkok, and the International El-Hibri Peace Education Prize in Washington D.C. in 2012.