American Ethnological Society
Oral Presentation Session
The explicit aim of Thailand’s Anti-Corruption Museum is the production of new “Anti-Corruption Citizens.” It is organized around a series of interactive displays that lead visitors on a moral journey through the occluded worlds of corruption. Along the way, they encounter ghostly construction sites, learn about infamous cases, visit occult bureaucratic offices, meet spectral businessmen, finally arriving at a set of moral teachings. Visitors are led to discover that corruption is enabled by moral failings at all levels of society that can only be counteracted by the adoption of a new set of attributes associated with Anti-Corruption Citizenship. In this paper, I ask what it means to be an Anti-Corruption Citizen, how such a thing is produced, what kinds of new subjectivities of corruption this figuration of citizenship anticipates, and what its political effects might be. Rather than clarifying the ‘epistemic murk’ (Taussig 1987) surrounding corruption, I argue that the museum is a site of agnogenesis (Proctor 2008), generating ignorance about the interrelationship between corruption and inequality. By obscuring this relationship, Anti-Corruption Citizens end up having political wills provoked by immorality rather than responding to the deeper structural roots of corruption. I suggest that this form of citizenship and its agnotologic politics is fundamental to successive rounds of anti-democratic protests in Thailand across the last decade.