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Photo of the Week: Hitting the Books in Khon Kaen

This summer, I've been learning more about what it means to be an area studies librarian. Among the most interesting of my experiences so far was searching for new books in Khon Kaen, Thailand (along with a little sightseeing on the side!).

—Zoë McLaughlin
University of Michigan

Submit your photo and it could be featured as #AsiaNow Photo of the Week—and you might win some free books from our Key Issues in Asian Studies series, too! Enter our "What I Did on My Summer 'Vacation' Photo Sweepstakes;" full details and information about entry are available here.

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 ...

#AsiaNow Speaks with Tania Murray Li

Tania Murray Li is Canada Research Chair in the Political-Economy and Culture of Asia and the Director of the Centre for Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Toronto. Dr. Li is author of Land’s End: Capitalist Relations on an Indigenous Frontier, published by Duke University Press and winner of the 2017 AAS George McT. Kahin Book Prize (SE Asia). To begin with, please tell us what your book is about. Drawing on two decades of ethnographic research in Sulawesi, Indonesia, the book offers an intimate account of the emergence of capitalist relations among indigenous highlanders who privatized their common land to plant a boom crop, cacao. Spurred by the hope of ending their poverty and isolation, some prospered, while others lost their land and struggled to sustain their families. Yet the winners and losers in this transition were not strangers—they were kin and neighbors, increasingly caught up in a set of competitive, capitalist relations that imposed a stringent market discipline. My acc ...

Launching the New Timor-Leste Initiative at AAS

By Richard Fox   Image 1: Roundtable discussion on the future of Timor-Leste studies, with Lisa Palmer, Fidelis Manuel Leite Magalhaes and Susana de Matos Viegas, and chaired by Elizabeth Drexler. The 2017 conference in Toronto marked the beginning of an ambitious two-year initiative devoted to raising the profile of Timor-Leste studies—both at AAS and in the wider North American academy. With generous support from the Henry Luce Foundation, the Southeast Asia Council’s (SEAC) Indonesia and Timor-Leste Studies Committee (ITLSC) hosted a series of special events, including an all-day pre-conference workshop attended by senior scholars, students and public intellectuals from Timor-Leste as well as North America, Australia, Europe and other parts of Asia. Looking ahead, the ITLSC is planning a similar series of events for 2018 in Washington, D.C. Let us know if you’d like to get involved and help to shape the future of TL studies at AAS—additional information and contact details ...

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