Mandala versus Carré
In 1907 Thailand (then called Siam) and France signed a treaty demarcating the borders between Thailand and French Indochina. It signalled the end of a long dispute.
In a well-know book, called Siam Mapped (1994), the Thai researcher Thongchai Winichakul writes that at the treaty the Thai government was well aware off the political advantages of embracing the European perception on sovereignty, and accepting clear delineated physical borders, based on clear maps.
Thailand had given up the idea of multiple sovereignty, a form of political organisation labelled as the mandala or galactic model. Thailand had become a geo-body state, to paraphrase Thongchai, with a European style administration, and European view on the state and inter-state relations, i.e. a worthy opponent of the French.
There is a non-published manuscript, by the commander of the French border mapping commission at the time, Colonel Bernard. Bernard highly influenced the outcome of the treaty of 1907, which resulted in an agreement drawing the borders between Thailand and Indochina, borders that still largely overlap with the contemporary borders between Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.
Bernard was well aware of the changes Thailand had undergone after 1850. He also makes clear that the French national government was only interested in border delimitation, not in colonization.
The manuscript enhances our insight in the French intentions. The idea is to present a paper containing these insights, and discuss them. The result will be used as an introduction to the publication of the the manuscript, later on.