About the event
Department of Anthropology Colloquium
A Child of the Northeast Roaming the World:
Reading Thai/Isan Literature as World Literature
Assistant Professor, Ubon Ratchathani University, Thailand
This talk examines the Thai author Kampoon Boontawee’s novel Luk Isan (A Child of the Northeast), which recounts the story of a boy growing up in a drought-plagued village in the Northeast of Thailand (known as Isan) in the 1930s. Against the dominant ethnographic readings of the novel as local color writing embodying authentic national/regional cultural value, this talk reads the novel as a work of world literature whose ‘coming-of-age’ narrative encodes the growing interiority of Isan subjects aspiring to become the bourgeoisie and participate in the capitalist world-economy. In linking Bakhtin’s concepts of the bildungsroman and chronotope with the notion of world literature influenced by world-systems theory, this talk seeks to demonstrate that the development of the provincial protagonist is chronicled in step with the unfolding of the novelistic space from regional to global. His emergence as a man marks not only Thailand’s integration into the modern capitalist world-system but also its internal colonialism whereby Bangkok has exerted its power over Isan.
All are welcome to attend!