Year published :July 2013

Pages :258 pp.

Size :14x21 cm.

ISBN: 9786162150623

Rights to Culture: Heritage, Language and Community in Thailand

by Coeli Barry

11 illus., notes, index

This collection brings together original, small-scale, ethnographic research on minorities and communities contesting heritage, livelihood, language, and citizenship in Thailand. The case studies included here look at the rights of communities to manage their own cultural and natural resources across a range of settings including ethnic Khmer communities in the Northeast, migrant groups in metropolitan Bangkok, and hill tribe communities in the North of Thailand. The studies individually and collectively draw attention to conditions that are conducive to rights claiming, and they explore how and in what situations community leaders choose to negotiate with the state using other discourses.

Readers interested in the limits and possibilities of invoking rights in the pursuit of diversity and pluralism will find in this book critically-minded, conceptually nuanced, and empirically grounded explorations of the interrelationship between culture and rights. The book’s theoretical and analytic insights contribute to the anthropology of rights as well as heritage studies by raising questions about the possibilities and limitations of rights-informed approaches to policy.

Rights to Culture will appeal to students, scholars, and practitioners of cultural heritage in Thailand and Southeast Asia, as well as globally.

What others are saying

Rights To Culture explores one of the most important and conceptually difficult topics in current heritage studies through case studies located in a nation of significant ethnic diversity and political complexity. The authors masterfully interweave history, environment, and cultural policy in deeply nuanced ethnographic analyses of communities that range in scale from rural villages to the pulsating urban capital of Bangkok. Rights To Culture is an outstanding contribution to debates about culture and rights globally.”—Helaine Silverman, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

“This book illustrates how the complex processes of transculturation are experienced by heterogeneous groups of people who are always excluded as “other” in so-called homogeneous Thai society. . . . Most important of all is the central argument that culture and rights have provided a negotiating space for these invisible people in their politics of identity to allow them to fully participate in development.”—Anan Ganjanapan, Emeritus, Chiang Mai University.

About the editor

Coeli Barry, PhD, teaches at the Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies, Mahidol University, and is adviser to the Cultural Rights Forum of the Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre in Bangkok.


Cultural heritage | cultural rights | minorities | Thailand | language | rights politics | right to culture