COTS2020 Saturday Keynote - De-centering Thai Studies: A View from the Northwest Borderlands

The Council on Thai Studies presents our 2020 Saturday Keynote:


Nancy Eberhardt, Ph.D. (Szold Distinguished Service Professor of Anthropology, Knox College)

In recent years, there has been an admirable effort by many scholars to create a more inclusive Thai studies, one that looks beyond Bangkok and the central plains to include the peoples and geography of other regions of the country, and even beyond -- including new research on Thailand’s transnational networks and studies of the global Thai diaspora. Despite this excellent work, one area that remains understudied is that of the northwest borderlands of Mae Hong Son province and parts of Chiang Mai province that are populated by Shan-speaking communities. 

In this talk, I will describe some of the research that has already been done in this part of the country that has -- or could -- make a significant contribution to Thai studies, despite what some might see as an awkward relationship between the two. I will also point to additional problems and issues where more research is needed and where perhaps a new generation of scholars might be persuaded to focus their attention. My aim throughout these examples is to show how including the northwest borderlands more prominently in Thai studies will productively complicate and ultimately enrich our understanding of Thailand, as well as help us better understand its regional context.

About the speaker:

Dr. Nancy Eberhardt is the Szold Distinguished Service Professor of Anthropology at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. She has conducted long-term fieldwork in Shan communities near the Thai-Myanmar border and has written on a range of issues, including Buddhism and life course development, ethnic identity, cross-border migration, and the gendered impact of changes in rural livelihood strategies. At Knox, Eberhardt served as Chair of the Department of Anthropology and Sociology for many years, and continues to teach courses on cultural anthropology, religion, and Southeast Asia. She is the author of Imagining the Course of Life: Self-Transformation in a Shan Buddhist Community, published by University of Hawaii Press in 2006, and re-issued in 2007 by Silkworm Press for distribution in Southeast Asia.


For the full schedule for the Council on Thai Studies 2020 Annual Meeting, please visit our conference website.

Dial-In Information

Register for the event.

If you have already registered for COTS2020, you do not need to register again for this event.

Saturday, November 14, 2020 to 7:15 PM

Virtual Event
Event Type

Lectures, Presentations and Workshops



Target Audience

General Public


Center for Southeast Asian Studies


Contact Name

Kanjana Thepboriruk

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