Losing the Remote: Exploring the Thai Social Order with the Early and Late Hanks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This article challenges the common understanding of Thailand’s ethnic divide as marked by unfamiliarity and an absolute difference between Thai society and the hill tribes in the country’s north. Much scholarship has overlooked how the negotiation of diversity and complexity has been foundational to Thai and other Southeast Asian societies and cultures for millennia. An ideology of ethnically singular and exclusive Thai identity framed the historical context in which Lucien Hanks initially wrote about Thai social life and its logics. I draw on his later work, particularly the research he conducted with Jane R. Hanks in the northern hills, to revisit diversity in Thai society and history. Hanks identified merit and power as the key principles of the Thai social order. A third notion, parity, enables inclusive and diverse social networks. It offers an indigenous challenge to any association of Thai identity, worldview, or social organisation with intolerance and ethnic chauvinism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)76-94
Number of pages19
JournalAnthropological Forum
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Thailand
  • history
  • pluralism
  • power
  • society

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Losing the Remote: Exploring the Thai Social Order with the Early and Late Hanks'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this