at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Histories and Historiographies of Thailand

9-24 main photo Photograph from the Grand Palace in Bangkok by Tim Moffatt

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Forest Recollections smallModern Thai Buddhism and Buddhadasa Bhikkhu- A Social History smallGhosts of the Past in Southern Thailand smallModern Thai Buddhism and Buddhadasa Bhikkhu: A Social History
by Tomomi Ito
Published by: NUS Press Pte Ltd, 2012

Modern Thai Buddhism and Buddhadasa Bhikkhu- A Social History

The Buddhist monk Buddhadasa Bhikku (1906-1993) injected fresh life into ThaiBuddhism by exploring and teaching little known transcendent aspects of the religion. His investigations excited both monks and lay people, and gave rise to vigorous discussion in shops, temple and yards and newly founded Buddhist associations. While these discussions included serious exchanges on doctrine and practice, they also included jokes and light humour, criticisms of weak evidence for various positions, and rumours that Buddhadasa was a communist sympathizer. Some of this material was captured in Buddhist journals and in numerous “pocket books” aimed at a general audience. Departing from the classical method of studying Buddhism through philology, Tomomi Ito’s account of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu draws on this popular literature and on detailed interviews with a very broad spectrum of the people involved in these exchanges. The result is a lively intellectual and social history of contemporary Thai Buddhism built around the life of an exceptional monk who captured the interest of Buddhists pursuing spiritual depth in the context of the ideologcial conflicts of the Cold War.

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The Ambiguous Allure of the West
Edited by Rachel V. Harrison and Peter A. Jackson, Foreword by Dipesh Chakrabarty
Published by: Southeast Asia Program Publications, 2010

Ambiguous Allure of the West

The Ambiguous Allure of the West brings together Thai and Western scholars of history, anthropology, film, and literary and cultural studies to analyze how the protean Thai self has been shaped by the traces of the colonial Western Other. Thus, the book draws the study of Siam/Thailand into the critical field of postcolonial theory, expanding the potential of Thai Studies to contribute to wider debates in the region and in the disciplines of cultural studies and critical theory. The chapters in this book present the first sustained dialogue between Thai cultural studies and postcolonial analysis.

By clarifying the distinctive position of semicolonial societies such as Thailand in the Western-dominated world order, this book bridges and integrates studies of former colonies with studies of the Asian societies that retained their political independence while being economically and culturally subordinated to Euro-American power.

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The Ghosts of the Past in Southern Thailand: Essays on the History and Historiography of Patani
Edited by Patrick JoryGhosts of the Past in Southern Thailand
Published by: NUS Press Pte Ltd, 2012

At the heart of the ongoing armed conflict in southern Thailand is a fundamental agreement about the history of relations between the Patani Malays and the Thai kingdom. While the Thai royalist-nationalist version of history regards Patani as part of that kingdom “since time immemorial,” Patani Malay nationalists look back to a golden age when the Sultanate of Patani was an independent, prosperous trading state and a renowned center for Islamic education and scholarship in Southeast Asia – a time before it was defeated, broken up, and brought under the control of the Thai state. In this volume, 13 scholars who have worked on this sensitive region evaluate the current state of current historical writing about the Patani Malays of southern Thailand. The essays in this book demonstrate that an understanding of the conflict must take into account the historical dimensions of relations between Patani and the Thai kingdom, and the ongoing influence of these perceptions on Thai state officials, the militants, and the local population.

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Forest Recollections: Wandering Monks in Twentieth-Century Thailand
by Kamala Tiyavanich
Published by: University of Hawaii Press, 1997

During the first half of this century the forests of Thailand were home to wandering ascetic monks. They were Buddhists, but their brand of Buddhism did not copy the practices described in ancient doctrinal texts. Their Buddhism found expression in living day-to-day in the forest and in contending with the mental and physical challenges of hunger, pain, fear, and desire.

Forest Recollections

Combining interviews and biographies with an exhaustive knowledge of archival materials and a wide reading of ephemeral popular literature, Kamala Tiyavanich documents the monastic lives of three generations of forest-dwelling ascetics and challenges the stereotype of state-centric Thai Buddhism. Although the tradition of wandering forest ascetics has disappeared, a victim of Thailand’s relentless modernization and rampant deforestation, the lives of the monks presented here are a testament to the rich diversity of regional Buddhist traditions. The study of these monastic lineages and practices enriches our understanding of Buddhism in Thailand and elsewhere.

To most people, Ronnie is an industrialist. But, he once said, “I want to be remembered more for my advocacy work rather than my achievement in business.” Ronnie is a man of commitment and involvement. He is very passionate about his advocacies. In times of crisis, he is called upon to head various task forces. He is the untiring spokesman of the business industry in issues of national and public concern. His advocacies are all directed to the good and benefit of the common “tao”.

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