Ban Amphawan et Ban Han. le Devenir De Deux Villages Rizicoles Du Nord-Est Thailandais

Article excerpt

Ban Amphawan et Ban Han. Le devenir de deux villages rizicoles du NordEst thailandais. Edited by Bernard Formoso. Paris: Editions Recherche sur les Civilisations, CNRS Editions, 1997. 754 pp.

This substantial book is a thoroughly researched monograph of the social and economic evolution of two villages in northeastern Thailand. The book is claimed by both the writer of the Preface and the editor of the volume to be the first multi-disciplinary study on rural Thailand ever published in French. However surprising this might seem, considering the long period over which the French have been conducting research in Thailand (one can think of institutions like the National Centre for Scientific Research [CNRS], ORSTOM, and EFEO whose researchers have been dispatched on location for several decades now), this nevertheless appears to be a justified claim. Another originality of the research that should be mentioned is that it re-visits villages surveyed in 1969-70 by the Chulalongkhorn University Social Research Institute (CUSRI), and thus provides a rare and welcome diachronic perspective.

With a lifespan spreading over nearly a decade, including the main fieldwork from 1984 to 1986 (here, one regrets that it took ten years after the fieldwork before the book was published), the largest part of the research was conducted chiefly by ethnologists, and also by two ethnolinguists, two sociologists, and a geographer, all either Thai or French. This publication is the final result of a sizeable collaborative effort between Mahidol University, Khon Kaen University, and the CNRS in Paris. The national origins of the contributors to the volume reflect this diversity, five being French (Dupaigne, Formoso, LevyWard, Maganon, Taillard) and six Thai, including four from Mahidol (Marukatat, Jimreivat, Sirisai, Thongdi) and two from Khon Kaen (Panyasing, Srisontisuk).

Ban Amphawan and Ban Han, both located in Khon Kaen province, with 773 and 1,137 inhabitants, respectively, were witnessing the heyday of Thailand's economic boom of the 1980s when this survey was conducted. Each in its particular way -- and with quite different end results -- profited from the relentless economic expansion of that golden age. It is this which the book brings most competently to light in the first instance (this stands in sharp contrast with the situation in northeastern Thailand since a ceiling has been reached in agricultural development over the last ten years). …