Preface
Penny Van Esterik

We ride on the shoulders of our teachers and our students. I thank all those who have taught and inspired me in Thailand and North America in the process of researching this book. Rather than select a few to name and risk offending by naming or failure to name, I would like this dedication to A. Thomas Kirsch (1930–1999) to stand as an acknowledgement and thank you to all those who take the time to support others, personally and professionally.

Although I was never a student at Cornell, Tom Kirsch was my teacher in many ways, responding to questions, commenting, commending, correcting. Every few months over the last three years, Tom would gently probe, ‘have you finished your book on Thai gender yet’? I would offer excuses, only to be buoyed up by Tom's faith in anthropology, Thai studies (and me). There is no greater gift that a mentor can give than the utter confidence that a task will be completed. Tom critiqued early chapter drafts, seeing connections to draw arguments together, pointing out contradictions, and inspiring insights that were as much his as mine.

In his own work, he saw historical context as integral to anthropological analysis, and incorporated gender as part of good ethnography in a logically elegant, unselfconscious manner into his work long before the subject became popular. His intellectual excitement was infectious.

This book is therefore dedicated to the life and scholarship of A. Thomas Kirsch, whose sensitive approach to history and gender in Thai anthropology inspired so many students and colleagues. His legacy endures in their work.

I acknowledge with thanks a York University, Faculty of Arts Research Fellowship (1992) that allowed me to spend several months at Thai Khadi Research Institute, Thammasat University, Bangkok. Stimulating visits to Southeast Asian Programs at Michigan, Wisconsin, Hawaii and Cornell made up for the isolation of writing in a school, indeed a

-ix-

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Materializing Thailand
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Preface ix
  • List of Figures xi
  • Part I - Orientations 1
  • One - Crafting Thailand 3
  • Notes *
  • Two - Ordering the Past: Representations of Thai Women 35
  • Notes *
  • Three - Buddhism and Gender Ideology 65
  • Notes *
  • Part II - Representations 93
  • Four - Representing Thai Culture 95
  • Notes *
  • Five - Deconstructing Display: Gender and Beauty 129
  • Notes 160
  • Six - Prostitution and Foreign Bodies 163
  • Notes *
  • Part III - Interpretations 199
  • Seven - Modelling Thai Gender Relations 201
  • Notes *
  • Eight - Context and Continuity: Grasshoppers, Turtles and Feminists 227
  • Notes *
  • Bibliography 241
  • Index 269
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