22 Jul 2013
Renowned historian Thongchai Winichakul gave a stinging critique of the Thai study of history at the opening ceremony of the Southeast Asian Studies Institute at Thammasat University-Rangsit on July 18, 2013. Thongchai blamed the insular Thai-style teaching of history for Thais’ ignorance and unjustified superiority complex in national history and spotty knowledge about their immediate neighbours. He contended that the extreme Thai-centrism in the study of history—the narcissistic attitude about the nature and source of the Thai identity—has been a major factor in the failure of Thai education. He calls for a more self-reflective, critical and integrated way of learning history and building knowledge, that places Thailand as a part of Southeast Asia—not a singular diamond of the region that sparkles only in the Thai mind.