Dynamic Diversity in Southern Thailandby Wattana Sugunnasil
Although southern Thailand is a dynamic and diverse region socially, politically, and economically, it had received comparatively little attention until the recent escalation of violence and instability. While the articles in this collection were written before this period of crisis, the issues they probe reveal some of the enduring features of this unique border region and provide a backdrop for the present unrest.
The twelve articles making up this volume examine a wide range of social, political, and economic issues in southern Thailand, focusing on particular questions such as: Is Islam compatible with Thai nationalism and the ideals of the Thai state? What features make southern Thai politics unique? What are some social consequences of top-down development projects in the South? How has subregional development affected southern Thailand? To what extent are women involved in community development in the South? Other articles investigate the consumption practices in a rural border community, the nang talung shadow puppet theater, the Hat Yai Vegetarian Festival, the feminization of nora spirit mediumship, a Dhamma walk around Lake Songkhla to highlight ecological concerns, the social relationship network of the Baba Chinese business community in Phuket, and the cultural construction of a Thai community across the border in Kelantan.
The wide range of issues and ideas presented in this collection reveal the unique character of the region and the variety of cultures that contribute to its dynamic diversity.
WATTANA SUGUNNASIL is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the Department of Social Sciences, Prince of Songkla University, Pattani Campus.