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A Sarong for Clio: Essays on the Intellectual and Cultural History of Thailand—Inspired by Craig J. Reynolds

A sarong for Clio
Maurizio Peleggi
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This volume testifies to an ongoing intellectual dialogue between its ten contributors and Craig J. Reynolds, who inspired these essays. Conceived as a tribute to an innovative scholar, dedicated teacher, and generous colleague, it is this volume’s ambition to make a concerted intervention on Thai historiography—and Thai studies more generally—by pursuing in new directions ideas that figure prominently in Reynolds’s scholarship. The writings gathered here revolve around two prominent themes in Reynolds’s work: the nexus of historiography and power, and Thai political and business cultures—often so intertwined as to be difficult to separate. Part I, “Historiography, Knowledge, and Power,” contains four essays that examine different types of historical texts, including the dynamics of their production, circulation, reception, and assimilation into, or rejection from, the established canon; and, in two cases, the vicissitudes in the lives of their authors. Part II features five essays that deal variously with Thai political discourse and political culture, as well as the media production of consumer culture.

Although he formally retired in 2007, Reynolds continues to be extremely active academically; he has since published articles, commentaries, and three books of collected essays, and is now working on a new monograph. His scholarship remains a source of inspiration for students of Thailand of three generations—his peers, his former students, and, increasingly, their students. The range of nationalities and geographical locations of this volume’s contributors, and the fact that historians are joined here by political scientists, testify to the influence of Reynolds’s formal and informal mentoring within and outside the discipline of history.


Maurizio Peleggi is associate professor of history at the National University of Singapore and editor of the Journal of Southeast Asia Studies. He is the author of Thailand: The Worldly Kingdom (2007), Lords of Things: The Fashioning of the Siamese Monarchy’s Modern Image (2002), and The Politics of Ruins and the Business of Nostalgia (2002), as well as many journal articles and book chapters.


  • Chris Baker formerly taught Asian history at Cambridge University.His most recent publications include Thailand: Economy and Politics (second ed., 2002), A History of Thailand (second ed., 2009), and The Tale of Khun Chang Khun Phaen (2012).
  • Patrick Jory, senior lecturer in Southeast Asian history at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, was formerly the coordinator of the Regional Studies Program at Walailak University in southern Thailand. He has authored numerous journal articles and is the editor or co-editor of Ghosts of the Past in Southern Thailand: Essays on the History and Historiography of Patani (2013) and Thai South and Malay North: Ethnic Interactions on a Plural Peninsula (2008).
  • Kasian Tejapira, professor of political science at Thammasat University, Bangkok, is the author of Commodifying Marxism: The Formation of Modern Thai Radical Culture, 1927–1958 (2001) and has published many journal articles and book chapters. He is also a regular columnist in the Thai press.
  • Tamara Loos is associate professor of Southeast Asian history at Cornell University. Her book Subject Siam: Family, Law, and Colonial Modernity in Thailand (2006) focused on gender, justice, modernity, and national identity in Thai history. Her forthcoming book, Bones Around My Neck: Silence and Secrets under Siamese Absolutism, is about Prince Prisdang Jumsai (1852–1935).
  • Yoshinori Nishizaki is assistant professor of political science at the National University of Singapore. He is the author of Political Authority and Provincial Identity in Thailand: The Making of Banharn-Buri (2011) and several journal articles.
  • James Ockey is an associate professor (reader) in political science at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. His research interests cover many aspects of Thai politics, including democratization, local politics, civil–military relations, electoral politics, and political conflict.
  • Pasuk Phongpaichit is emeritus professor of economics at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok. His most recent publications include Thailand: Economy and Politics (second ed., 2002), A History of Thailand (second ed., 2009), and The Tale of Khun Chang Khun Phaen (2012), an annotated translation of the Thai folk epic that won the 2013 Becker Translation Prize from the Association of Asian Studies. 
  • Thongchai Winichakul is a professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His book Siam Mapped: A History of the Geo-body of a Nation(1994) was awarded the Harry J Benda Prize in 1995, and the grand prize from the Asian Affairs Research Council (Japan) in 2004, following the publication of its Japanese translation.
  • Villa Vilaithong teaches history at Chulalongkorn University. Her research interests include Thai cultural and business history, the advertising and fashion industries, and consumer culture. She is the author of “Thantakan” khong Jit Phumisak lae nak thot kan mueang (Prison time: Jit Phumisak and other political detainees, 2013).


A Sarong for Clio offers bold explorations into several critical areas of Thai studies. Its essays will certainly reshape our understanding of Thailand in the modern era. Audacious and uncompromising—and splendidly engrossing—it is a worthy tribute to Craig Reynolds, the scholar whose work it honors.—Richard A. Ruth, U.S. Naval Academy


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