Justin Marozzi

Angels in Disguise

The Third Sex: Kathoey - Thailand's Ladyboys

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Not far into this book, I recalled with a shudder the linguistic assault of studying political science in America. To this day I am haunted by the title of a presentation I was asked to give my fellow postgraduates. It was called ‘Spatio-temporal Parameters and the Postulates of Orientational Substitutability’. Try saying something meaningful about that. This dreadful jargon, I ventured, was perhaps the most eloquent proof of the intellectual bankruptcy of political science as a discipline. The professor and students looked at me uncomprehendingly. But then, what could they expect from the Brits?

From political science, it was only a quick ride across campus to social science, another relatively new kid on the block. Like its cousin it has felt the need to invent a whole new language – frequently of the most impenetrable kind – to give it a veneer of academic credibility.

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