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Statement in Support of Dr. Chayan Vaddhanaphuti and Colleagues

AAS President Katherine Bowie, with the approval of the AAS executive board, has co-signed a statement with a number of academic bodies (including the International Institute for Asian Studies, European Association for Southeast Asian Studies, and others) in support of Dr. Chayan Vaddhanaphuti of Chiang Mai University. Dr. Chayan and four of his colleagues have been summoned to appear before the Royal Thai Police and respond to questions about statements made during the recent 13th International Thai Studies Conference (ICTS) in Chiang Mai. All five face potential charges of illegal political assembly. Dr. Chayan has a long history of academic citizenship in hosting a wide range of workshops and international conferences, and has played a longstanding role in sponsoring students to conduct their fieldwork in Thailand. In addition to organizing ICTS, he also facilitated the recent meeting of the International Convention of Asia Scholars in Chiang Mai; each conference was attended by well over 1,000 participa ...

Buddhism in Decline: Media Narratives in Thailand

By Brooke Schedneck “In deeply religious Thailand, monks have long been revered. But badly behaved clergy, corruption scandals, and the vast wealth amassed by some temples has many asking if something is rotten at the heart of Thai Buddhism. From selfies on private jets to multimillion dollar donations from allegedly crooked businessmen, Thailand’s monks are coming under increasing fire for their embrace of commercialism.” This quote from Delphine Thouvenot and Thanaporn Promyamyai’s Bangkok Post article from 2015 titled “Chequebook Buddhism: Threat to Buddhism in Thailand?” exemplifies the ways the media, both foreign and Thai, frequently constructs Buddhism in Thailand as existing in a state of collapse. In many opinion pieces, Buddhism is portrayed as a religion in dire need of transformation, reform, or even an entire overhaul. The highest-ranking monks, called the Sangha Council, are criticized for their weak actions and lack of power. Editorials often state th ...

A Lexicon of Repression in Thailand

By Tyrell Haberkorn In an essay for the May 2017 issue of the Journal of Asian Studies (“The Anniversary of a Massacre and the Death of a Monarch,” currently free to download), I reflect on the fortieth anniversary of the 6 October 1976 massacre, when state and para-state forces brutally murdered unarmed students at Thammasat University in Bangkok. Unresolved questions about the possible role of the institution of the monarchy in the massacre have been a primary factor both ensuring impunity for the perpetrators and constricting public discussion about the massacre. The anniversary events, held under the military regime of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and marked by calls for recognition of the humanity of those killed, directly challenged the ongoing impunity of the perpetrators of the massacre. One week after the anniversary, Rama IX, Bhumipol Adulyadej, died and the crown prince, Maha Vajiralongkorn, was named his successor as Rama X. One of the primary features of the NCPO ...

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