Lampang Assessment: Revisiting a Classic Study of Field Research in Northern Thailand
- About the Book
The creation in 1969 of a field research station near Lampang in northern Thailand by the recently established Scandinavian Institute of Asian Studies was something of a gamble. The Vietnam War was spreading into Laos and Cambodia with a communist insurgency also growing in Thailand, not least in the north. Some scholars feared being compromised by Cold War schemes and maneuvers. Yet in the five years of the station’s existence a large number of Nordic scholars, often in partnership with Thai and other foreign colleagues, undertook research based at Lampang. Significant new research was initiated here, including archaeological excavations that rewrote the prehistory of mainland Southeast Asia and a mapping of the folklore and languages of upland minorities that helped decipher the linguistic history of the region’s lowland majority peoples. Following the closure of the station in 1974, an assessment of the project was made and combined with an extensive collection of papers based on research carried out at Lampang. The resulting volume had a limited circulation, a situation remedied by the publication of this revised and updated edition. In a critical introduction, the new volume considers the research station in its time, a period of war and of cultural and political turmoil, an age when the academic world was being transformed by an influx of baby-boomer students, and a moment just before the advent of mass travel. Besides retrieving a lost collection of scholarly research, the volume offers insights for the equally massive changes sweeping higher education today.