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July 6, 2013 Destination Thailand No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59First International Seminar of Tai Yai Studies successfully held in Mae Hong Son

Hosted by the Tai Yai Studies Center of Mae Hong Son Community College, the very first and two-day international seminar of Tai Yai Studies was successfully held in Mae Hong Son on June 29-30, 2013 in collaboration with the Center of Ethnic Studies and Development (CESD), Faculty of Social Sciences, Chiang Mai University.Sidebar-Banner-GTM_Specs--250x250-A

Well attended by some hundred international Shan scholars and local Tai Yai village chiefs and villagers, the seminar tried to establish international collaboration, sharing research and cultural exchange among Tai Yai people and beyond. It is not easy to know, how many Tai people are scattered in other countries such as China, India, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Viet Nam or even Thailand. In the past minority issues were very sensitive in all these countries. Only just recently minorities’ issues are becoming recognized and the important diversity of ethnic groups being considered on the basis of equal rights.

The planned and upcoming ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) will open a new area of co-operation among the nationalities of the 10 ASEAN countries, especially along the border areas. As Mae Hong Son with its dominant Tai Yai or Shan population is connected to Myanmar’s Shan State, there will be ever-increasing exchange in trade, tourism and education possible.

Under the sponsorship of Ms. Naruemol Palwat, Governess of Mae Hong Son, the following academics presented their papers on Tai Yai history and culture:

Prof. Emeritus Srisak Vallibodhama from Bangkok, who gave a special lecture on Ethnic Identity, Nation State and Globalization, highlighting that culture is dynamic.
Shan scholar Sai Aung Tun from Yangon in Myanmar, who reflected on Shan Historiography and the spreading of Tai people from south of the Yangzi in China to the countries of the northern mainland of Southeast Asia. Via the Chindwin River in Myanmar they even reached Assam in Northeast India 800 years ago.
Western scholar Prof. Nicola Tannenbaum reflected on her studies in a village in Mae Hong Son Province some 30 years ago and mentioned that no culture and tradition is unchanging.
Achan Khuensai Jaiyen from Chiang Mai talked about the special history of Mae Hong Son going back to Tai Yai people. His lecture can be found on his web-site:
Achan Sawaeng Malasam gave an overview of Tai Yai people in Lan Na Thai and projected a map sketch of Tai Yai temples in the city of Chiang Mai.
Prof. Tadayoshi Murakami from Japan gave an interesting lecture on the Shan Manuscript Culture called “lik long”, which is now revitalized by migrants.
Indian scholar Ms. Sangeeta Gogoi highlighted the Tai Ahom Movement and Culture in the time of globalization and social change.

Next to these lectures on the first day of the seminar, there were several roundtable discussions such as on Tai Communities and Cultural Tourism amongst others. A special focus was given by researchers on the Tai Ahom in India, Tai Dam in Viet Nam and Tai Lue in Xishuangbanna in China on the second day, as well as some special roundtable discussions such as on Tai Literatures.

In concluding the outcome of the seminar, Prof. Chayan Vaddhanaphuti, Director of the Regional Center for Social Science and Sustainable Development (RCSD) from Chiang Mai University, said that he was happy because of the good balance between the presentations of the international scholars and networks of the Tai Yai people of the border region. An exhibition of arts and handicrafts, a short field trip in Mae Hong Son, plus musical performances and dances, such as Kinari and To, during lunches and a dinner complemented the successful seminar. The Second International Seminar on Tai Yai Studies will be probably held at Chiang Mai University in 2015.

For tourists who want to visit Mae Hong Son with all its natural and cultural beauties, there is a highly recommended flight with Kan Air from Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son three times a day for 1,490Baht one way. There are a myriad of guesthouses, hotels and resorts for all budgets to choose from. With the best location right in the middle of the provincial town is the new Panorama Hotel for 600-800Baht a room (see

In another development, there was the ambitious opening of the newly constructed “Genesis” Community Development Center in Pang Daeng, Chiang Dao in Chiang Mai Province on June 30, 2013. With a grant of 10,000Euro from the German Embassy in Bangkok, the two NGOs of Helfen-Germany with its CEO Mr. Michael Boeder and Nurture the Kids with its CEO Mr. Sombat Sakorn co-operated together to create a helpful community center for children in need.

Written by : Reinhard Hohler

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