Friday Forum: Palita Chunsaengchan

206 Ingraham Hall 1155 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI

Censoring "Miss Suwanna of Siam:" Film Diplomacy and the Ruling Class’s Double Vision Palita Chunsaengchan Ph.D., Assistant Professor Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies University of Minnesota Miss Suwanna of Siam (1923), putatively the …

Friday Forum: Nam Kim

206 Ingraham Hall 1155 Observatory Dr., Madison, WI

"Archaeological Explorations of 'Viet' Origins: A Personal Journey"

The discipline of archaeology in present-day Vietnam has an interesting and deep history, one marked by alternating backdrops of political stability, social upheaval, and nationalistic agendas. Past and present Vietnamese researchers have been interested in a material record (dating back millennia) to consider the underpinnings of an ancient “Viet” civilization, and how landscapes, relics, and sites fit into a larger tapestry of history – both ancient and recent. Not surprisingly, these material remains have also been incorporated into modern notions of identity and projects aimed at cultural preservation. This lecture considers these themes while also highlighting my own personal engagement with archaeological research as an individual of Vietnamese ancestry.

Friday Forum: Boreth Ly

206 Ingraham Hall 1155 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI

"Of Rice and Roses: Preliminary Thoughts on Critical Pleasure and the Philosophy of Sabai"
Colonial regimes in Southeast Asia considered natives to be lazy and incapable of making progress, and thus separate from the industrial world. In recent decades, global capital and shifts in political regimes in Southeast Asia have engendered massive changes in local lifestyles within nations, have redefined structures of labor, and have resulted in mass migrations. With a focus on Cambodia and its diaspora, this talk argues for the need of critical pleasure or sabai in the aftermath of genocide and the current global pandemic and ongoing climate crisis. Further, it seeks to reassess how ideas of progress, civilization, and time are expressed and negotiated in everyday life. Last, the talk hopes to engage the audience with the following questions: Can one define a local aesthetic of sabai? How is sabai embodied and pictured? How might the traditional local Southeast Asian understanding of sabai contribute to the discourse on and practice of critical pleasure?

Friday Forum: Jane Ferguson

206 Ingraham Hall 1155 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI

"Four of the Thirteen Lives Are Stateless:
The Cave Rescue, Hollywood Heroism and Ethnonational Traps at the Thai-Burma Border"

In 2018, the world news watchers were captivated by the real-life rescue of the boys’ soccer team, the Wild Boars, from deep within the labyrinth of Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Chiang Rai Province, Thailand. The amazing story was ripe for the plucking, with suspense, drama, and a happy ending. Just 4 years later, Hollywood director Ron Howard released the movie Thirteen Lives, with professed dedication to contextual authenticity. Moving from the heroic story itself, this presentation will consider ethno-nationalist discourse, and how Thai-ness is visible, assumed, or glossed over, depending on the situation. Does it matter if we emphasize their regional identity? Their Shan-ness? How are the boys trapped in the cave different from Shan construction workers? Can discussion of the amazing story, even the Hollywood film, prompt discussion about citizenship law reform? In addition to considering the framing of Ron Howard’s movie in light of these questions, this presentation draws upon ethnographic discussion of everyday statelessness in Thailand, as presented in my recent book, Repossessing Shanland: Myanmar, Thailand, and a Nation-State Deferred.

Friday Forum: Jerome Whitington

206 Ingraham Hall 1155 Observatory Dr., Madison, WI

"Late Industrial Environments are Constituted by Uncertainty: Notes from Lao Hydropower"

Viewing contemporary environmental politics through the lens of crisis or destruction may lead to an overly apocalyptic understanding of our contemporary ecological predicament. A different view draws on English and American pluralist philosophies, and highlights the role of potentiality, knowledge and uncertainty at work when technologies amplify ecological relations in ways both terrifying and hopeful. This view places technology and ecology on the same side of the equation, rather than positioning them as opposites, and emphasizes the role of uncertain knowledge in the emergence of anthropogenic ecologies. In this talk Whitington elaborates on late industrial capitalist ecologies from the vantage point of sustainable hydropower development in Laos. Because industrial technologies produce emergent relations it may be useful to say that late industrial environments are constituted by uncertainty. He draws on Susan Harding's term underdetermination to argue that uncertainty is a subjectifying and productive force whereby people conform themselves to emergent ecological relations through the interplay of threat and opportunity. This leads to surprising results in understanding the relation between culture and ecology, without implying that people are either rational-objective observers or sociobiological automatons. While contributing to a political understanding of current ecological dilemmas, this view does not, however, obviate or solve them.

Friday Forum: Thanik Lertcharnrit

206 Ingraham Hall 1155 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI

“The Prehistory of Thailand, from the Beginning to the Emergence of Urban Centers”

Friday Forum: Phong Nguyen

206 Ingraham Hall 1155 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI

The Interpretation of Silence: Navigating History, Myth, and Invention as a Vietnamese American Writer This talk will explore my family background, my efforts to understand and write about my father's history, and how this background …

Friday Forum/Council on Thai Studies (COTS) Conference Keynote Lecture: Pinkaew Laungaramsri

206 Ingraham Hall 1155 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI

"Border and Bribery: An Anthropology of Corruption"

Corruption has often been defined as a sign of social instability and decay, endemic to weak states with poor legal order. Anti-corruption networks, policymakers, politicians, and international institutes intrinsically linked corruption to the lack of good governance and transparency believed to lead to consequential economic losses for the developing world. Such view is shaped by the separation between the state and society and the law and corruption opposition. Drawing on fieldwork in border town A in western Thailand, this talk attempts to move away from the duality of the relationship between state and corruption and corresponding public and private dichotomy by investigating the politics of bribery, extortion, and brokerage operating at the border. In rethinking the anthropology of corruption, the speaker argues that corruption in the form of bribery has not only been central to the process of state making at the margin, it has also been key to accumulation of capital through fixity of migrant workers that connects the margin with the global textile industries. The complex relationship between state’s reification and exploitation of migrant categories, and immigrant’s negotiation of such immutability are discussed as fundamental to what Kirsten Endres calls ‘corrupt exception’ – the overlapping state of inclusion and exclusion in which corruption has become the norm rather than the exception.

Friday Forum: John A. Marston

206 Ingraham Hall 1155 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI

"Dharmawara Mahathera: More Thoughts about a Transnational Cambodian Monk" Dr. John A. Marston Professor-Researcher Center for Asian and African Studies Colegio de México Dharmawara Mahathera (1889-1999) was a colorful Cambodian monk resident in India from …

Friday Forum: Nattaporn Luangpipat

206 Ingraham Hall 1155 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI

"National Policies, Economic Realities, and the Shifting Acceptance of Mandarin and Chinese Dialects in Thailand" Nattaporn Luangipipat Ph.D. Candidate in Composition and Rhetoric University of Wisconsin-Madison Language is an essential component in maintaining identity. Individuals …

Friday Forum: Mai Elliot

206 Ingraham Hall 1155 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI

"Looking For My Family's Roots in a Changed Vietnam?"   Returning to Vietnam after the Vietnam War ended in 1975, I found a country that time, two long and devastating wars, a Communist revolution, globalization …

Friday Forum: Chaiyaporn Singdee

206 Ingraham Hall 1155 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI

"The Afterlife of the Vietnam War Era: U.S. Army Uniforms in Thailand"   Chaiyaporn Singdee Ph.D. Candidate in Anthropology Chiang Mai University   The economic power and global appeal of the second-hand clothing industry has …