Thursday, September 28, 2017 at 12:00pm to 1:30pm
640 Stewart Ave, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA
"The Road Ends Here: A Small Market Border Town and Thailand's Future"
Niti Pawakapan, Visiting Fellow (SEAP), Professor of Anthropology, Chulalongkorn University
I am completing my research on a small market town located in Thailand’s northwestern region called Khun Yuam. Because of its location on a local trade route, Khun Yuam, despite its smallness, has been economically active since its founding in the nineteenth century. In those days traders travelled back and forth between the markets in Burma’s Shan States and northern Siam via the town to trade all kinds of goods. My research interests therefore also cover the cross-border movements, especially the border trade. Using Khun Yuam as an example, my talk will examine Thailand’s ongoing attempt to establish its economic and trading relations with other Asean Economic Community (AEC) countries. There are, however, many difficulties, including the lack of basic facilities and bureaucratic red tape. For example, the road from the town to the border is slightly over 30 kilometers, but less than ten kilometers of it is paved. The rest is a dirt road, which becomes muddy in the rainy season. Under a heavy rain, some parts of the road become almost inaccessible. Moreover, some parts of the road are under the authority of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation. For many years local authorities have been trying to improve the road conditions, but they have had little success in negotiating with the Department of National Parks. I propose that by examining the situation at the local level, we may be able to understand the difficulties Thailand’s is facing at the national level.