To See or Not to See: Social invisibilities in Rattawut Lapcharoensap’s Sightseeing

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Bancha Rattanamathuwong
Darintip Chansit

Abstract

This paper discusses how the issues of social invisibility are explored in Rattawut Lapcharoensap’s collection of short stories: Sightseeing. While the criticisms of Lapcharoensap’s stories often focus on the cross-cultural encounters in his works, this paper will mainly examine how two stories in his collection reveal the internal problems within Thailand. Thailand as portrayed in the two short stories is rife with classism and blatant corruptions. Our analyses of the short stories are informed by the concept of social invisibility, which addresses the problems faced by the marginal exemplified by the main characters. Focusing on ‘Priscilla the Cambodian’ and ‘Draft Day,’ we shall argue that the two stories thematise the problems of injustice and inequalities in Thailand by juxtaposing what can be seen with what is invisible or is rendered invisible. In ‘Priscilla the Cambodian,’ both immigrants and Thais are subject to social invisibilisation. ‘Draft Day,’ on the other hand, thematises a different form of invisibility and reveals that the state of invisibility can be manipulated and exploited by those who are more socially advantaged. Apart from the analyses of the stories themselves, this article should also contribute to the discussions on the portrayals of Thailand in Western literary circles.

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Research articles