• Offered by School of Culture History and Language
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject Asian Studies
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Mode of delivery In Person
Thailand: Contemporary Culture and Political Transformation in a Buddhist Kingdom (ASIA2076)

While Thailand is often marketed to international tourists as a peaceful, pleasurable holiday destination, the massive political upheavals of recent years have proven to be a shocking counter-narrative to the touristic image of the serene, devoutly Buddhist kingdom. Using an interdisciplinary approach, this course will examine the history, culture, and politics of Siam/Thailand, in both national and regional perspective.

Some of the important historical and anthropological tropes covered in the content of the course will be: 

  1. Siam has the unique status of never having been a colony of a European colonial power. How did this occur historically, and what have been the repercussions of this?
  2. What is the role of Buddhism in Thai society? Conversely, how do non-Buddhist practices and other organized religions fit into the public and political arena?
  3. What was Thailand’s role during the Cold War? To what extent are the current security/refugee issues dominating the Thai-Burma border a result of ongoing militarism in the region?
  4. How has Thailand’s ethnic and gender pluralism shaped popular discourse and state policies? In what way are these social issues universal or particular to this context?
  5. How can we understand popular culture in Thailand as embedded in local cultural practices of production and reception, or as part of a global trend?

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Students will have a nuanced, critical understanding of historical and social processes in Thailand. Essay assignments will hone their expository and analytical skills, and a guided research project will sharpen their library research skills, as well as their ability to formulate effective research questions.

Indicative Assessment

Essay Assignment 1 – 1,500 words  25%

Essay Assignment 2 – 1,500 words  25%

Final independent research project – 3,000 words  30%

Attendance/Participation 20%: The 20% valuation for attendance/participation in addition to showing up and participating in tutorials also includes two student-led presentations and critical summaries of the assigned readings.

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have successfully completed 36 units of university courses.

Preliminary Reading

Thongchai Winichakul, Siam Mapped.

Pasuk and Baker, A History of Thailand.




Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2016 $2718
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2016 $3876
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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There are no current offerings for this course.

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