Abstracts Südostasienkunde


Raum: F6, EG, Fürstenberghaus
Tag Zeit    
Mo 13:30-14:30 Leider Myanmar’s Place in Asian History – Sketching the current challenges for historical research
Mo 14:30-15:00 Dahm Die Politisierung des Buddhismus in Birma im frühen 20. Jahrhundert 
Mo 15:00-15:30 Sevenig Buddhismus und indigene Glaubensformen in Baan Hadnaleng: Dynamiken von Religion und sozialer Morphologie in Nord-Laos
Mo 15:30-16:00 Pause
Mo 16:00-16:30 Estévez The last Lanten Daoist ritual masters? Resilience and cultural adaptation among the Lanten of Laos
Mo 16:30-17:00 Techasirwan / Grabowsky Buddhist worldview as reflected in inscriptions of Buddha images and colophons of Buddhist manuscripts from Tai Lü areas in Northern Laos
Mo 17:00-17:30 Sengsoulin Manuscripts found in the abodes of Venerable Abbot Pha Khamchan Virachitto, Vat Saen Sukhāram, Luang Prabang, Laos
Mo 17:30-18:00 Boulyaphonh The Interesting Features of Private Letters and  Official Documents Found in Pha Khamchan Virachitta Maha Thera’s Abode (kuti)
Mo 18:00-18:30 Raendchen Book Launch: How Timely is the recent theme of the Tai Culture series?
Di 09:00-09:30 Ratana A Conceptional Study of the Influence of Indian and Chinese Civilizations on Women in the Southeast Asian Realm
Di 09:30-10:00 Chuenchat Queen Cāmadevī present-day narratives related to the identities of Lamphun
Di 10:00-10:30 Thitibordin The Logging Business and Economic History of the Northern Thai Borderland, 1880–1950
Di 10:30-11:00 Pause
Di 11:00-12:00 Satyawadhna / Sripaoraya / Numsawat Herstory – Nora: The Living Cultural Survivals of Southern Thailand
Di 12:00-12:30 Sripaoraya The Aesthetics and Semiotics of Nora – The Ritual Performance of Southern Thailand
Di 12:30-13:30 Mittagspause
Di 13:30-14:00 Sidasathian The Situation of the Unsolved Issue of Rohingya in Thailand: Most Updated Case of Those Arrested in 2013
Di 14:00-14:30 Müller Durch Rockmusik zum Islamstaat? Moderne Jugendkultur als Ressource islamischer Parteipolitik in Malaysia
Di 14:30-15:00 Pollachom Transnational Islamic Education : The Identity Formation of Malay-Muslim Women in the Three Southern Border Provinces of Thailand in the 1970s
Di 15:00-15:30 Jäger Die Revitalisierung von „traditionellen“ politischen Systemen in Indonesien in der Post-Suharto- Ära
Di 15:30-16:00 Pause
Di 16:00-16:30 Panarut The Erotic Scene of Early Bangkok Literature: Convention, Dynamic and Development
Di 16:30-17:00 Buranapatana Characteristics of the Thai language from a German perspective: An analytical study of German textbooks of the Siamese (Thai) language from the late 19th and early 20th centuries
Di 17:00-17:30 Groß Vorschlag eines Transliterationssystems für das Thailändische
Di 17:30-18:00 Götz A Need for New Translations? Criticism of Pali-Thai Translations of Theravada Buddhist Texts under Examination

Abstracts der Einzelvorträge:

Boulyaphonh, Khamvone: “The Interesting Features of Private Letters and  Official Documents Found in Pha Khamchan Virachitta Maha Thera’s Abode (kuti)”

Pha Khamchan Virachitta Maha Thera (1920–2007), the late abbot of Vat Saen Sukharam monastery and former Chairman of the Lao Buddhist Fellowship Organization of the province of Luang Prabang (1976-2007), Laos, was one of the most outstanding Lao intellectuals during the twentieth century.  He was highly respected by monks and lay people of Luang Prabang, the old royal capital which has been the spiritual centre of Lao Buddhism since ancient times and the seat of the Supreme Patriarch until the founding of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic in December 1975.

Based on a large corpus of diverse documents – personal letters and official documents – which the late Venerable Abbot kept at his abode over a period of more than fifty years, most important but widely neglected and largely unknown aspects of this history and practice of Lao Buddhism may be reconstructed. This paper aims at studying the above mentioned monastic source material by focusing on the social and political role of Pha Khamchan Virachitta Maha Thera and Lao Buddhist society in Luang Prabang during the second half of the twentieth century.

Buranapatana, Maliwan: Characteristics of the Thai language from a German perspective: An analytical study of German textbooks of the Siamese (Thai) language from the late 19th and early 20th centuries

This study presents a preliminary analysis of three textbooks on the Siamese language written in German by German scholars in the late 19th century. These three textbooks were compiled by using Thai language textbooks for foreigners and dictionaries written by foreigners at a tune when no Thai-German dictionary had been written.  The first textbook explains the essentials of Thai grammar focusing on the phonological system using phonetic symbols and compares it with German and other languages. The second textbook also focuses on the phonological system of Thai while adding reading exercises for self-study. The reading exercises are written in both Thai and phonetic transcription, and learners can practice translating from Thai to German and from German to Thai.  At the end of the book, a vocabulary list is provided with both in Thai and phonetic transliteration, with translation in German. Appendices provide information on Thai alphabetic symbols, vowels, tone rules, numbers, sentences commonly used in daily life, and Thai tales written in Thai and phonetic transliteration. Some interesting issues include an explanation on Thai consonants, vowels, tones, phonetic transcription and orthography at the time these books are written which are different from the present time. Furthermore, reading exercises in these books reflect Thai society at the time the books are written.

Chuenchat, Pantina: Queen Cāmadevī present-day narratives related to the identities of Lamphun

The aim of this paper is to examine the concept of how, under certain circumstances, the behaviour adopted by local elites can influence and shape the local identity of a region. In this case study, special attention is focused on the uniqueness of local art clearly influenced under the premises of this concept.

The study focuses on the Northern Thai province of Lamphun where the famous Legend of Queen Cāma (Cāmadevīvaṃsa) is still very popular today. Over the centuries, this legend has deeply influenced diverse aspects in people’s life, beliefs and also performing arts. The legend of Queen Cāma has become part of a complex process of building a new northern Thai regional identity based on old Lan Na language, history and culture.

How this process developed over the last decades will be discussed in my paper. There are different representations of art which have been inspired by the Legend of Queen Cāma, such as: popular literature, mural paintings, theatre plays, and the construction of monuments for (spirit) worship. These different kinds of arts provide not only the usual services for entertainment and communication within and outside the local community; there is also evidence that some of these art representations were even used for psychological and healing purposes.

In this respect, the narratives motivating the intellectual and behavior development of the Lamphun people are as well examined in the paper.

Dahm, Bernhard: Die Politisierung des Buddhismus in Birma im frühen 20. Jahrhundert

Der Beitrag diskutiert, wie im späten 19. Und frühen 20. Jahrhundert  im Rahmen der überall in Südostasien zu beobachtenden starken Unterstützung nationalistischer Bewegungen durch religiöse Gruppen  dies schließlich auch im –  in der Theorie zumindest unpolitischen – Theravada-Buddhismus  in British-Burma beobachtet werden konnte.  Das  Paper schildert zunächst die Rolle des Buddhismus im alten birmanischen Staat  und geht dann auf die durch die britische Eroberung des Landes bewirkten Veränderungen ein, wobei  insbesondere die Absetzung des birmanischen Königs zu einer Destabilisierung der Sangha  führte. 

Die Versuche,  nach dem Vorbild der Young Men Christian Association durch eine Young Men Buddhist Association dem Buddhismus in Birma neue Perspektiven  zu öffnen,  wurden weder von den Kolonialherren noch von den Kolonisierten honoriert, sodass erste Versuche politischer Reformen nicht die gewünschten Erfolge brachten  und stattdessen von buddhistischen Mönchen angeführte  gewaltbereite Gruppen  die Auseinandersetzungen in den 1920er Jahren bestimmten. Es wird untersucht, welche  Vorstellungen die  führenden  Mönche dabei leiteten, denn das Problem  einer vom  Buddhismus tolerierten Gewalt sollte auch in dem späteren Myanmar eine Rolle spielen.

Die Ausführungen stützen sich auf Materialien, die anfangs der 70er Jahre  in britischen Archiven im Rahmen meiner Habilitationsarbeit über Emanzipations-versuche von kolonialer Herrschaft in verschiedenen Ländern Südostasiens aufgefunden wurden,  in jener Zeit aber keine Verwendung finden konnten.

Estévez, Joseba: “The last Lanten Daoist ritual masters? Resilience and cultural adaptation among the Lanten of Laos”

The Lanten, a population also known as Lao Huay or Yao Mun that inhabits the highlands of Laos, have been exposed for centuries to conflicts and processes of marginalization, ranging from clashes with the Chinese dynasties from the 12th Century onwards to their involvement in the Indochina Wars from the 1950s to the 1970s. In the face of these vicissitudes the Lanten society has displayed an extraordinary resilience. This did not entail a stubborn insistence on their cultural traditions or pursuing a policy of social isolation. On the contrary, the Lanten have incorporated practices and objects, persons, ideas and values originating from abroad, interiorising them into their own cultural repertoire. In this respect, the Lanten belief system and particularly the roles performed by the Lanten Daoist ritual specialists have been of essential importance. However, during the last decades, the social, political, economic and cultural contingencies in Northern Laos have created a context, in which the last generation of Lanten ritual masters face one of their biggest challenges: to deal with a generational change-over that guarantees their models of reproduction of social relationships and the transmission of their cultural knowledge. This paper reports on an on-going research among the Lanten in Luang Namtha province, Laos, and it is based on current social anthropological data. It focuses on the Lanten Daoist ritual specialists and addresses questions regarding the future of the Lanten and their particular belief system.

Götz, Susanne: A Need for New Translations? Criticism of Pali-Thai Translations of Theravada Buddhist Texts under Examination

Since the first complete translation of the canonical Theravada scriptures from Pali into Thai was printed in 1957, several other translations and revised translations of the Pali canon into Thai have been published. Though they are traditionally classified as “free translations” (Th. plae tam at, plae ao khwam), except for one recent traditional word-for-word translation (Nissaya translation), modern translation theory would rather place them in the category of “formal translation”: they still preserve formal features of the source texts in many ways – and to such an extent that some educated Thais describe them as “poorly intelligible”. They also criticize Pali education in Thailand that provides the translation training.

This paper examines the criticism of the philological translation tradition, describing and explaining phenomena in terms of translation theory and providing insights from Bible translating. Furthermore, suggestions for alternative translations are given and their possible implications and effects are discussed.

Groß, Markus: Vorschlag eines Transliterationssystems für das Thailändische

In der Südostasianforschung, anders als beispielsweise in der Sinologie, der Indologie oder der Semitistik, gibt es keine allgemein akzeptierten Transliterations- und Transkriptions-systeme. „Transliteration“ bezeichnet dabei die Umsetzung der Originalschrift in ein Umschriftsystem, das die Rückübertragung in die Originalschrift ermöglicht, während „Transkription“ eher für phonetische Umschriften verwendet wird. Zwar haben sich im Falle des Thailändischen mittlerweile phonetische Umschriften eingebürgert, die auf ähnlichen Prinzipien beruhen (wie die in den Wörterbüchern von Mary Haas, McFarland oder Rohrer verwendeten), das Problem ist hierbei jedoch, dass thailändische Homophone wie เล่า (erzählen) und เหล้า  (Schnaps) beide gleich transkribiert werden (z.B. als [lâw]).

Ein Transliterationssystem sollte also mehrere Aufgaben erfüllen:

1. Möglichkeit der Rückübertragung in die Originalschrift

2. Anwendbarkeit auf andere südostasiatische Schriften (z.B. Laotisch, Khmer; “Bank”: thail.: ธนาคาร – Khmer: ធនាគារ – Laotisch: ທະນາຄານ sollten ähnlich transliteriert werden)

3. Lehnwörter, z.B. aus dem Sanskrit, sollten auch für andere Disziplinen (z.B. Indologen) erkennbar sein. Hierbei würde ein Vergleich der Transliteration von thailändisch ธนาคาร (vorläufig transliteriert: dhanā-g­ār) mit dem laotischen Äquivalent ທະນາຄານ (dhanā-gān), die annähernd gleich transkribiert werden müssten, zeigen, dass das Laotische hier von dem altindischen Vorbild abweicht, indem es eine etymologische durch eine phonetischere Orthographie ersetzt hat.

 Ein Problem ist hierbei die erforderliche „Ungleichbehandlung“ von altindischen Lauten und moderner thailändischer Aussprache. So entspricht das ท in Sanskritwörtern einem ursprünglichen „d“, wird heute aber als [th] ausgesprochen, während „echt thailändisches „d“ ด geschrieben wird. Hier muss das zu erstellende System einen Unterschied machen.

Jäger, Kirsten: Die Revitalisierung von „traditionellen“ politischen Systemen in Indonesien in der Post-Suharto-Ära

Nach dem Sturz Suhartos, Indonesiens Präsident von 1966-1998, wurde das ehemals stark zentralistisch regierte Indonesien innerhalb weniger Jahre zu einem der dezentralisiertesten Länder der Welt. Nach Suhartos Abdankung wurden unter der Nachfolgeregierung nach dem Grundsatz „regionale Autonomie“ (Otonomi Daerah) Gesetze erlassen (1999) und implementiert (2001), die den Provinzen (propinsi) und Regierungsbezirken (kabupaten) in administrativer, fiskalischer und politischer Hinsicht eine größere Autonomie verliehen. Durch diese Reformen wurde die Konkurrenz um natürliche, finanzielle und machtpolitische Ressourcen zwischen Distrikten und politischen Entscheidungsträgern neu entfacht. Im Zuge der der Otonomie Daerah ist eine weitere Entwicklung in ganz Indonesien erkennbar: Die Revitalisierung von „traditionellen“ politischen Strukturen.    

Dieses Phänomen werde ich am Beispiel des Sultanats Jailolo in Halmahera (Nord-Molukken) genauer betrachten. Das Sultanat Jailolo wurde bereits im 16. Jahrhundert von Ternate, einem anderen Sultanat auf den Nord-Molukken, annektiert und im 17. Jahrhundert gänzlich eingestellt.

Dennoch gehört Jailolo zu einem der vier mythischen Grundpfeiler der Nord-Molukken und die Bewohner*innen der Region referieren auf die Provinz der Nord-Molukken als Maluku Kie Raha, die vier Berge der Molukken. Diese Zuordnung basiert auf einem Schöpfungsmythos, der besagt, dass die vier Sultanate(die vier Berge)Ternate, Tidore, Jailolo und Bacan, von vier Brüdern gegründet wurden, die ihr Vater – ein Immigrant – mit seiner extraterrestrischen Frau zeugte.   Neben seiner mythischen Bedeutung spielte das Sultanat Jailolo seit seiner Einstellung keine eigenständige politische Rolle mehr. Dennoch wurde das Sultanat im Jahr 2003 revitalisiert

In dieser Präsentation werde ich den Wiederaufbau des Sultanats im Zuge der Post-Suharto-Ära skizzenhaft nachzeichnen. Besondere Aufmerksamkeit gilt den sozialen, ökonomischen und politischen Implikationen dieser Rekonstruktion.

Leider, Jacques: “Myanmar’s Place in Asian History – Sketching the current challenges for historical research”

From the early modern times down to the colonial period, Myanmar/Burma was never an area of primary, neither material nor scholarly, Western interest. The study of history and culture was the reserve of a very limited number of scholars during the colonial period and it has remained a marginal and widely understudied field of investigation since the country’s independence. This fact has rarely been appreciated due to sheer ignorance of the bulk of manuscript and other sources at hand. But the marginalization had huge consequences. Myanmar’s history and culture and their place in Asia have been mainly interpreted with regard to dominant outside forces that had an impact on its development (India, China, the West). With regard to the rare instances where Myanmar has been seen as a historical actor (the invasions of Siam, the colonial wars against the English, the persistence of traditional authoritarianism until the most recent times), the general perception of the country and its leadership has been predominantly negative, while it runs across an often naïve view of Myanmar’s supposedly pristine Buddhist culture. More sophisticated, mainly Western interpretations of Myanmar’s history setting it within global and comparative perspectives have confidently assigned the country its place within our post-colonial understanding of Southeast Asia’s ancient history, but they had yet little impact on the country’s own narrowly nationalist historiography.
Current historical writing on Myanmar has been moving into two directions. On the one hand, there are those publications that confidentially summarise the country’s past in terms that suggest that we really have already a solid base of knowledge to understand its history. On the other hand, there is a substantial amount of writing flowing from a new generation of scholars that suggests that much of what has been written needs to be revised promoting an awareness that a deeper exploration of sources would ultimately bring about some serious reconsideration of Myanmar’s history and its place in Asia. The second direction is quite obviously more challenging and more promising. Taking stock of the current condition of historical research on Myanmar, I will argue that we need to critically assess the areas of the unknown within the fields of historical investigation and delineate current challenges of historical research. Historical research on Myanmar calls for a road-map that includes a focussed research on manuscripts, extensive art historical research, in-depth archaeological research, and last but not least, a project of ethnically encompassing, diversity-conscious cultural conservation.
While paying attention to Myanmar’s historical development with regard to the Tai world, I will further argue that the study of Myanmar’s history calls for a much greater recognition of its role as a dynamic and autonomous historical actor in its own way and within the wider context of its Asian neighborhood.

Müller, Dominik M.: Durch Rockmusik zum Islamstaat? Moderne Jugendkultur als Ressource islamischer Parteipolitik in Malaysia

Islamische Parteien sind ideologisch, politisch und kulturell weitaus komplexer, als sie von westlichen Beobachtern zumeist dargestellt werden. Mein ethnologischer Beitrag analysiert aktuelle Entwicklungen innerhalb der größten islamistischen Oppositionspartei Malaysias (Parti Islam Se-Malaysia, PAS), die mit gängigen Stereotypen nur wenig gemeinsam haben.

Der Jugendflügel der PAS (Dewan Pemuda PAS) agierte in der mehr als 60-jährigen Parteigeschichte immer wieder als ein Initiator tiefgreifender Veränderungsprozesse. Gegenwärtig ist die PAS-Jugend leidenschaftlich darum bemüht, ihrer Partei durch die Aneignung moderner Populärkultur ein für jugendliche Zielgruppen attraktiveres Profil zu geben. Dabei experimentieren die jungen Aktivisten mit neuen Mobilisierungsstrategien, wie der kreativen Nutzbarmachung sozialer Medien, eigenen kommerziellen Marken, islamischer Missionsarbeit auf extravaganten Motorrädern, sowie der Integration prominenter Musiker und Schauspieler. Unter dem Slogan ‚Die Jugend ist unsere Gang‘ (Orang Muda Geng Kita) findet im Zuge dessen eine kulturelle Transformation des sog. ‚islamischen Kampfes der PAS‘ (perjuangan Islam PAS) statt.

Allerdings hat die Begeisterung für moderne ‚islamische‘ Pop- und Konsumkultur – entgegen der „Post-Islamismus“-These[1] – nicht zur Aufgabe grundlegender islamistischer Überzeugungen geführt. Im Kontrast zu pragmatisch orientierten Parteiälteren, der sog. ‚Erdogan-Fraktion‘, fordert die PAS-Jugend, die ‚Kernwerte des islamischen Kampfes‘ (asas perjuangan Islam) wieder zur obersten Priorität zu erklären – insbesondere im Bereich von Staatsorganisationsrecht. Ihre Führung spricht neben dem Ziel eines Islamischen Staats und der religiös obligatorischen Einführung islamischen Strafrechts sogar vom ‚Islamischen Kalifat‘ (khilafah Islamiyyah), ein Novum im PAS-Diskurs. Die Revitalisierung des staatspolitisch orientierten Islamismus, die plakativ als ‚Purifizierung des Kampfes‘ propagiert wird, geht jedoch paradoxerweise einher mit einer populärkulturellen Öffnung bzw. pop-islamistischen Neuerfindung der PAS.

[1] Vgl. z.B. BOUBEKEUR, Amel und ROY, Olivier (2012): “Introduction: Whatever happened to the Islamists… or Political Islam Itself?”, in: ibid. (eds.), Whatever happened to the Islamists? Salafis, Heavy Metal Muslims and the Lure of Consumerist Islam, 1–16. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

Panarut, Peera: The Erotic Scene of Early Bangkok Literature: Convention, Dynamic and Development

The metaphorical speech of erotic scenes in Thai literature of the early Bangkok period reaches its remarkable development in the genre of Nithan Kamklon, which evolved from the Ayutthya literary convention. In the Ayutthya period, the metaphor of natural element is popularly employed, for example, flowers, bees, storm, earthquake are used to signify sexual symbols and sexual intercourses in beautiful imagery. These metaphors correspond with Sṛṅgārarasa in Sanskrit literary theory. The erotic scene employing the natural metaphor recurrently appears and then becomes the literary convention in the classical narrative literature (‘Chak Chak Wong Wong’) since the late Ayutthya to the early Bangkok periods, especially in the field of dramatic poetry. However, the role of the early Bangkok literature for individual reading and entertainment till the dawn of the new literary genre, Nithan Kamklon, as well as the worldview change of the poets makes the erotic scenes of the early Bangkok period becoming more prominent and dynamic than in the period before especially with regard to the literary masterpieces of Kaki kamklon, Khun Chang Khun Phaen and Phra Aphaimani. In these works, the poets employ a variety of metaphors corresponding with the social context and the bourgeoisie’s culture, for instance, the argosy, the fire arm and the folk games. Furthermore, the poets narrate the disappointed sexual affairs of the male character through the metaphor as a result of the more realistic worldview in the early Bangkok literature. It can be said that the erotic scene of early Bangkok literature has the dynamic development from the earlier period and remark the characteristics of its period. Nonetheless, the metaphorical creativity of early Bangkok literature is not only the result of the poets’ individual skill, but also reflects the change of the poets’ worldview and the literary role of the period.

Pollachom, Taweeluck: Transnational Islamic Education : The Identity Formation of Malay-Muslim Women in the Three Southern Border Provinces of Thailand in the 1970s

The Malay Muslim people in Thailand’s three southern border provinces have long felt a deep pride in their identity. They have especially taken pride in their identity as a prominent center for Islamic scholars and of Islamic learning in the surrounding region, a role that it continues to play today both in the form of modern Islamic private schools and even in the form of some traditional pondok Islamic educational institutions that continue to attract students from many other countries to seek additional knowledge. Neither the Thai government nor some scholars of Islamic studies understand the local peoples’ pride in their Malay-Muslim identity as well as they should—even despite the present situation of conflict in the region, a conflict which arises partly from that very misunderstanding of the local peoples’ cultural and religious identities. These misunderstandings arise from The way that the Thai government misinterpret the identities in the three southern provinces, especially from the perspective of inter-ethnic and inter-cultural relations that have a bearing on the construction of their identities, a set of identities that have been distinctive to this region for a long time. In spite of their identity are shifted over time but the deep pride of the Malay-Muslim is still existence in the present.    

This research study confirms that the local people’s pride in their identities as Malay-Muslims has been intensifying since 1970s, which was a threshold period in the resurgence of religiously-based socio-political movements in the three southern border provinces, along with the development of political and military separatist movements. During this period, the role of Muslim women as active agent in the movement appears. Drawing interviews with some of these Malay-Muslim women who have studied in Muslim-majority countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Their experiences while living and studying away from their hometowns caused these women to reflect on and emphasize more deeply their identities as Malay-Muslims, especially the pride they took in their local region’s traditions of religious knowledge, which appeared to them to be deeper than that of other Muslim countries, including that of the Sacred Lands (for example Saudi Arabia) that source of the religion. Thus we can see that this region’s history as an advanced center of religious learning had an important role in the development of revivalist Islamic emphases that would be seen in subsequent years. These women would play an important role in establishing the new roles and identities of Muslim women in the Islamic revivalist movements in this region, especially through their roles as teachers in the private Islamic schools that were once viewed as replacements for the traditional pondok Islamic schools, and that were therefore seen as destroying the identities of the Malay Muslims of Thailand’s three southern border provinces.

Raendchen, Oliver: Book Launch: How Timely is the recent theme of the Tai Culture series?

The recent volume of TAI CULTURE Vol. 23 (just published and printed) has the title of ROUTE OF THE ROOTS: TAI—ASIATIC CULTURAL INTERACTION

Prof. em. Cholthira Satyawadhna has contributed as lot in the making of this recent volume as the Guest editor, including the initial idea for the theme itself.

The fields of study in this volume include – but are not limited to – archeology, history, art history, geography, and anthropology, including language and literature. The theme is tackled from various perspectives.

The general question of this volume is what kinds of open and hidden cultural interactions have all the Tai peoples been conducting in their different geographical settings, at distinctive cultural landscapes, with different ethnic neighbors, and also their kin groups, leading to  layers of differentiation processes among the Tai groups themselves when they migrated to the territories that are today Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar, Assam, or those who have stayed on in their homeland of that era, in South China. A special focus is laid on indigenous Austroasiatic people – but not exclusively.

The aim of this volume is to present a helpful orientation to the problem as an initiative idea and to encourage similar-shaped and farther-reaching studies by interested scholars in the future. It is an attempt to co-ordinate efforts in order to contribute to the reconstruction – through a paradigm shift – of a new body of knowledge on the topic concerned for Thai and Asian Studies.

Various in-depth documentaries and field research completed in the past two decades have opened up a new horizon in the study of the Tai/Thai/Siamese in terms of their Austro-asiatic and Austronesian connections, deconstructing conventional traditions of Thai Studies. It has been replaced by the understanding and conceptualization of the ‘plurality of societal developmental stages’ which amazingly occurred more than two thousand years ago in China, India, upper mainland Southeast Asia, the Thai-Yunnan Periphery in particular, and southwards to the Pacific Islands.

Altogether, 6 authors (4 from Thailand, 2 from Germany) who have contributed to the thematic volume of TAI CULTURE are presenting their papers at DOT 32 at Münster, and they will all be introduced at the book launch.

A positive new development that I have seen in the making of the volume is not only the high academic standard of the articles, but also that many of the anthropologists have taken good quality photographs in the field by themselves to visualize the articles.

A committee consisting of Editors and Academic Advisors will decide on a price for the best original photo in this volume, also to be announced at the book launch.

Ratana, Pakdeekul: A Conceptual Study of the Influence of Indian and Chinese Civilization on Women in the Southeast Asian Realm

This study shows that Southeast Asian states drew considerable social influence from the powerful neighbouring civilizations of India and China. For example, legal concepts from ancient Indian law such as the Laws of Manu and Kautiliya’s Arthaśāstra, and the beliefs and religious practices of both Hinduism and Buddhism have exerted their influence over the states and societies of Southeast Asia. In addition, it appears that Confucianism also penetrated into the indigenous social belief systems. An interesting aspect of this process is the phenomenon that the Southeast Asian states absorbed these influences through a form of integration and adaptation, bringing them into line with the indigenous beliefs and traditions. This resulted in the formation of distinctive identities in each of the Southeast Asian social character types. It has also found that the issue of women was treated in various oriental manuscripts and legal texts. The woman as wife and mother is dealt with in the Laws of Manu and the Tipitaka, the Theravada-Buddhist canon, and women’s roles and rights in general are treated in the Arthaśāstra. In addition, the qualities and duties of good and bad women are portrayed in various works of women’s instructional literature influenced by Confucianism, and include the duties of women toward their families as they appear in ancient Chinese law.

This study has already demonstrated that such phenomena have a deep impact on the social status and obligations of women and the women’s roles in Southeast Asia were also influenced by the civilizations of India and China. This fact may lead us to understand the gender relations and gender roles that have been continuously present up to the present day. However, this study intends to take a wider perspective with regard to the influence of ancient oriental civilizations, that is, of India and China, in forming Southeast Asian attitudes towards women’s qualities and responsibilities, focusing on the kingdom of Lan Na.

Satyawadhna, Cholthira; Sripaoraya; Kanit; Numsawat, Ekachai: Herstory – Nora: The Living Cultural Survivals of Southern Thailand

Nora (โนรา), a Thai traditional local dance, is well-known as a performance genre that still survives and has a social function in Southern Thailand, notably in the three major provinces of Nakhon Si Thammarat, Songkhla, and Phatthalung. Most studies of the genre, either from an outsider-in or insider-out perspective, tend to perceive Nora as the pride of Southern Thais, preserved as the cultural heritage of the South. Our research goes beyond this stereotypical record of cultural heritage by focusing on the performers and trying to understand how they perceive Nora. We have spent almost three years studying Nora via several actual performances and have interpreted each one by reading in-between the lines. Space (stage and locality) and time (occasion and ceremonial rituals) have been taken into account. Apart from documents, archives, and fieldwork, we have also conducted action research among Nora dancers as individuals and a Nora troupe as a team. This research on Nora has been a delight. It has been fascinating to discover that there is a hidden structure within the Nora dance and ritual performance – unwritten knowledge and unsung wisdom, together with supernatural craftsmanship. The spirituality of Nora, derived originally from matrilineal clan system, and further exposed in either patrilineal or bilateral,  is thoroughly integrated into the dance performed, the poetry recited, the rites conducted, and the ritual space used. That is why the “Herstory-Nora” is and has been so enchanting, charming, and intriguing – truly a Pandora’s Box for the explorer.

Sengsoulin, Bounleuth: Manuscripts found in the abodes of Venerable Abbot Pha Khamchan Virachitto, Vat Saen Sukhāram, Luang Prabang, Laos

In Laos, like in other countries of Buddhist Southeast Asia, a variety of manuscripts can be considered as one of the important primary to reconstruct the intellectual history of this culturally rich region. However, manuscripts bearing texts pertaining of Buddhist teachings have been stored in monastic libraries or in the abodes of eminent abbots. One of the most influential abbot who took a very personal interest in manuscripts was Pha Khamchan Virachitto (1920–2007), former abbot of Vat Saen Sukhārām, who passed away in 2007. After his death a variety of manuscripts were found in his abode (kuti). Most importantly, numerous of these manuscripts strongly state that he had himself written and/or scribed to remark his own importantly-specific event. Some manuscripts are believed his private use, alongside.

According to the materials used for scribing and/or writing, the above mentioned manuscripts should be divided into two main groups, – nang sǖ bai lān (Palm-leaf manuscripts) and nang sǖ phap (paper manuscripts). The former consists of two sub-groups lān yāo (long Palm-leaf) and lān kòm (short Palm-leaf), whereas the latter comprises with three sub-groups phap sā (mulberry paper), samut khòi (khòi paper), and phap lan (modern paper). Sāthu Nyai Khamchan Vilachit had himself preferred to scribe the first main group, but given the priority of manuscripts collection for private use to the second main group, – when he was alive. This paper seeks to shed new light on Lao manuscript culture by analysing the process of copying and preserving manuscripts in a unique monastic environment.

Sevenig, Eva: Buddhismus und indigene Glaubensformen in Baan Hadnaleng: Dynamiken von Religion und sozialer Morphologie in Nord-Laos.

In dem Vortrag geht es um die Praxis und Dynamik von Theravāda-Buddhismus und indigenen Glaubensformen in Baan Hadnaleng, einem ethnisch gemischten Dorf in Nord-Laos. Während die Khmu und Samtao als „Minoritäten-Gruppen“ gelten und Mon-Khmer-sprachig sind, stellen die Tiefland-Lao die Tai-Kadai-sprachige „Majorität“ des Landes. Ich möchte mit dem Vortrag die aktuellen Ergebnisse meiner ungefähr zwölfmonatigen Feldforschung skizzieren und konzentrierte mich dabei auf die Dynamiken und Schnittstellen der jeweiligen Religions- und Sozial-Systeme. Die Ergebnisse werden als repräsentativ für Prozesse gesehen, die in ganz Laos beobachtet werden können.

Historische Begebenheiten wie die Migrations- und Konversionsgeschichten gehören zum Hintergrundbild um die aktuellen Identitäts-bildenden und erhaltenden Prozesse zu verstehen. Hier spielen derzeit stark diskutierte Konzepte wie Ethnizität, Ritual, Moderne und Globalisierung als Grundpfeiler eine große Rolle.

Eine interdisziplinäre Diskussion, in der vor allem auch Historiker oder Religionswissenschaftler die dargestellten Phänomene von anderen Blickwinkeln aus beleuchten, wird angestrebt.

Sidasathian, Chutima: “The Situation of the Unsolved Issue of Rohingya in Thailand: Most Updated Case of Those Arrested in 2013”

This paper is a part of my on-going Ph.D. thesis, ‘An Ethnography of the Rohingya in the Thai-Asian Socio- Politico-Cultural Context’. The paper will analyze the Thai government policy towards the 2,026 Rohingya who have been arrested by Thai officials from January to May 2013. The fundamental conclusion is that the Thai government has no clear policy for the Rohingya, even though it conscientiously apprehended groups from human trafficking camps and exodus boats. The government’s aim was to find a solution to the Rohingya boatpeople issue, perhaps involving a third country as their ultimate destination.  However, in detention in Thailand some Rohingya men have been subjected to brutal confinement in enclosed cells while women and children have been separated from their menfolk Families have been broken up. Rohingya, stateless in their homeland of Burma, are as a result treated differently to other illegal immigrants in Thailand.   This paper will critically analyze the Thai government’s insincerity and failure to solve the Rohingya issue. So far, Thailand has demonstrated an incapability to match international standard to meet basic human rights objectives. The Thai government’s approach has been more about quarantining the Rohingya and sending a message to others not to follow, because there will be no comfort for them in Thailand. Losing human dignity and some are driven to contemplate suicide, the most updated situation of Rohingya has been in crisis. For Thailand, the challenges of stateless illegal immigration have yet to be overcome. The most urgent supports that can be drawn so far are both financial aids and moral support. Economic rewards remain the prime consideration even though Thailand has pledged to give these representatives of Burma’s unwanted Muslim minority a second chance.

Sripaoraya, Kanit: The Aesthetics and Semiotics of Nora – The Ritual Performance of Southern Thailand

This research is the studies of the aesthetics and semiotics of Nora, the traditional performing
art and ritual in Southern Thailand. Its evident identity has been coined by the influence of the cultural transaction between the core Asian cultures, i.e., the Chinese and Indian civilizations plus with the Austro-asiatic and Austronesian indigenous cultures. In particular, the aesthetics of Nora which are so invaluable among the Southern Thai communities are concealed in the deep structures of the poetic verses, songs, plays and the gestures of dancing. The analysis of these structures will indicate the cosmology, worldview, belief system, and way of life which uncover the specific pattern of human relations, and human in relations with nature, including human’s close relationship with spirituality among Southern Thai Communities.  

This research is an attempt to analyze the basic twelve gestures of Nora by integrating the concept of aesthetics which is exceptionally oriental and interpreting the ‘hidden signs’which are intertwined within the artistic ritual performance. It is discovered that from ancient times until present, the aesthetics of Nora have been extraordinary ‘semiotic’ and intermingled among the various lineages of multi-cultural groups, among the Thai (Siamese), Chinese and even Muslim of Southern Thailand. According to the structural-functional content analysis and semiotic interpretation, in-depth qualitative research is genuinely the emphasis of this research.

Techasiriwan, Apirade / Grabowsky, Volker: Buddhist worldview as reflected in inscriptions of Buddha images and colophons of Buddhist manuscripts from Tai Lü areas in Northern Laos

“Tai Lü” is the name of an ethnic group belonging to the southwestern branch of the Tai-Kadai linguistic family. They have spread over a large area in the upper Mekong – roughly one million people living in the four nation-states of China, Laos, Thailand and Burma. The Tai Lü are devout believers of Theravada Buddhism, and this religion has strongly influence their culture, literature, and way of life. The donation of Buddha images is still practiced among Tai Lü groups in northern Laos; the same holds true for the production of manuscripts of religious as well as secular content.

This presentation aims at studying in a comparative perspective inscriptions on the pedestal of wooden Buddha images and colophons of Tai Lü mulberry paper manuscripts from northern Laos, especially the district of Müang Sing (Luang Namtha province) near the border to China.

In a preliminary study, it was found that both kinds of sources – inscriptions as well as colophons – are quite similar with regard to content and structure of the dedications and blessings they usually expose, the purposes and desires of scribes and donors who inscribed/wrote or dedicated a wooden Buddha image or manuscript. Such dedications are usually connected with the hope that the meritorious act may help support the Buddhism to survive for 5,000 years and to enable the scribe or donor to finally reach Nibbāna in his future existences. It is hoped that this study will shed some new light on our understanding of the Tai Lü belief system.

Thitibordin, Amnuayvit: The Logging Business and Economic History of the Northern Thai Borderland, 1880–1950

The control over regions at the periphery and their resources by the national center is one of the most important topics in the history of modern Thai economic development. Economically and politically, the northern borders of Thailand were penetrated by the Thai state, Chinese merchants, and Western companies. The same phenomena also emerged in other border regions in modern Thai history. The interplay between various regional and national agents shaped the politico-economic conditions of the northern border zones. They help to secure natural resources from the northern border areas to ensure the country’s development processes. However, the interplay is based on the unique characteristics of business like logging and on the division of labour between ethnic groups which put constraints on the actions of agents operating in the borderlands and influences the economic development as well. This paper seeks to explore the economic development of the northern border zone of Thailand between the end of 19th until the mid-20th centuries. The northern border zone, which once formed the core of the Lan Na kingdom has been into the Thai nation-state since the late 19th century. It will be examined whether the specific character of Northern Thailand as a borderland did play any important role in bringing about economic change in this area. The most important economic features of Northern Thailand during the period 1880–1950 will be explored as well.