The Tai world spans much of mainland Southeast Asia, its largest groups being the Thai of Thailand, the Lao of Laos, the Shan of Burma and the Dai of southern China. Studies of this world often treat 'state' and 'community' as polar opposites: the state produces administrative uniformity and commercialization while community sustains tradition, local knowledge and subsistence economy. This assumption leads to the conclusion that the traditional community is undermined by the modern forces of state incorporation and market penetration. States rule and communities resist."Tai Lands and Thailand" takes a very different view. Using thematic and ethnographic studies from Thailand, Laos, Burma and southern China, its authors describe modern forms of community where state power intersects with markets, livelihoods and aspirations. Their aim is to liberate community from its stereotypical association with traditional village solidarity and to demonstrate that communal sentiments of belonging retain their salience in the modern world of occupational mobility, globalized consumerism and national development.It opens up fresh perspectives on a part of SE Asia undergoing a major transition.
It will inform future studies of contemporary sociality in Southeast Asia.
A fellow of the Australian National University's RSPAS, Andrew Walker works on issues of rural development, resource management and modernisation in northern Thailand. He is the co-founder of the New Mandala blog, one of the world's leading blogs discussing mainland Southeast Asia.
1. Introduction (Andrew Walker); 2. The origins of "community" in Thailand (Craig Reynolds); 3. Thai border subversions (Nicholas Farrelly); 4. NGOs, self-sufficiency and the Thai political economy (James Haughton); 5. Belonging and the puutaa cult of southern Laos (Holly High); 6. A modern Thai community in rural Chiang Mai Province (Andrew Walker); 7. Belonging and modernity in the construction of the Dai youth identity in Xishuang Banna, China (Antonella Diana); 8. Transnational marginality and urban belonging in Laos (Warren Mayes); 9. Living within the state: district forestry officials in Nakai, central Laos (Sarinda Sing); 10. Conclusion; Index.