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  • LIFE

    An academic life

    Life, Chris Baker, Published on 16/08/2019

    » Charles "Biff" Keyes is exceptional. Among the foreign researchers who first came to study Thailand over half-a-century ago, few are now regularly read and cited today. Their works have aged. Academic fashions have changed. Their names have slowly faded. But anyone wanting to understand Thailand's Northeast today will still read Isan: Regionalism In Northeastern Thailand, first published in 1967 as a modest "data paper". This can partly be attributed to Keyes' staying power. He continued to teach, write and regularly visit Thailand until a handful of years ago. But it's also due to the book's quality, Biff's engaging personality, and his major role in the development of the study of Southeast Asia.

  • LIFE

    Getting away with it

    Life, Chris Baker, Published on 23/11/2018

    » From 1977 to 1988, there were at least 1,436 alleged cases of arbitrary detention, 58 forced disappearances, 148 torture, and 345 extrajudicial killings in Thailand. We know these figures because an NGO investigated and reported these cases at a time when the idea of human rights excited optimism about justice and the rule of law. Amnesty International encouraged international activists to protest individual cases. Thai authorities investigated and whitewashed each case. This became standard procedure. After a time the NGO gave up. Nobody was punished.

  • LIFE

    The best prime minister Thailand never elected

    Life, Chris Baker, Published on 16/11/2018

    » Anand Panyarachun's two spells as unelected prime minister in 1991-2 had such a profound effect that they now seem preordained by history. This splendid book shows how the reality was otherwise.

  • LIFE

    Turning cheeks and pages

    Life, Chris Baker, Published on 06/09/2018

    » Egyptian mummies who come to life as sexy nymphets. Thai princes driving fast cars. A Thai superwoman who casually murders several husbands. Starlets touting breast-enhancement techniques. For a book about "nationalism and identity in modern Thai literature", this volume has a few surprises.

  • LIFE

    Benjarong in detail

    Life, Chris Baker, Published on 05/01/2018

    » Benjarong is the brightly coloured porcelain made in China for the Thai market which enjoyed a peak of popularity in the 19th century. Dawn Rooney sets out to provide "a single reference source for Bencharong ... the book I wish had been available when I first became interested in this little-known form of ceramic art 20 years ago".

  • LIFE

    How Bangkok came to be

    Life, Chris Baker, Published on 03/11/2017

    » In 1963, Edward Van Roy arrived in Thailand to work on a survey of hilltribes. This was a golden era of anthropology with an emphasis on ethnicity and villages. Since his retirement from the UN in 1997, Van Roy has been tramping round the localities of old Bangkok, peering into the temples and shrines, rooting out the memories of the remaining old residents, and ransacking libraries for memoirs and histories.

  • LIFE

    Integration or disintegration

    Life, Chris Baker, Published on 11/08/2017

    » One of the lesser-known activities of the European Union in this region is the funding of academic research designed to "help the EU and its member states make coherent and culturally relevant foreign policies" towards the region.

  • LIFE

    Respected Southeast Asian history scholar, Michael Vickery, dies

    Life, Chris Baker, Published on 07/07/2017

    » With the death of Michael Vickery in Battambang, Cambodia last Thursday, Southeast Asian history lost a giant.

  • LIFE

    The perfection of humour

    Life, Chris Baker, Published on 02/06/2017

    » The story of Vessantara, or Wetsandon, is perhaps the most famous and best-known tale in Thailand. Although originating among the jataka tales of India, most think it a local creation (Thais call it chadok). There is a Pali version in the early Buddhist texts, and official Thai-language adaptations since the 15th century. But the story also lives in popular memory, in pictures on wat walls, and in performances at annual festivals, and in these forms there is great scope for creative adaptation.

  • LIFE

    The romance of the Siamese war elephant

    Life, Chris Baker, Published on 03/03/2017

    » 'Some so superb surpass a city's worth."

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