Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020 Engendering History: Gender, Sexuality, and Love in Thailand, Lao PDR, and Cambodia

Wednesday, September 23, 202011:00AM - 12:30PMOnline Event, Online Event


Ashley Thompson suggests an engendering of history that bears “the potential to make history, literally and figuratively, insofar as it threatens or promises to upset established notions of the field” (2008:106). This panel takes up Thompson’s call to engender history and interrogates dominant conceptions of gender, sexuality, and love in modern Thailand, Lao PDR, and Cambodia. From texts to textiles, classrooms to forests, and wedding photos to state records, the papers focus on particular spaces and materials that vibrated with social and political intensities through the long period of the Cold War in Thailand, Lao PDR, and Cambodia. The panel shows how materiality and spatiality were key aspects that shaped the ideological extremes that manifested in violence and unrest in Southeast Asia, and the panel begins its inquiries in the 1950s.

Alexandra Dalferro – “Weaving Queer Pasts and Futures in Thailand”

Chairat Polmuk – “Of Eros and the Forest: The Topography of Love in Lao Revolutionary Literature”

Catriona Miller – “Sewing Patterns and Visions of Democracy: Khmer Women Organizing during Decolonization (1948 – 1952)”


ALEXANDRA DALFERRO is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Cornell University. She is currently writing her dissertation about the politics and practices of sericulture and silk weaving in Surin, Thailand, and she pays particular attention to the sensory and affective dimensions of these processes. Her fieldwork was supported by the Wenner Gren Foundation and the Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad program, and for the 2019-2020 academic year, she was a Mellon Graduate Fellow at the Society for the Humanities at Cornell. Alexandra likes to weave and to sew and to think about how craft and art intersect with daily life.

CHAIRAT POLMUK teaches Southeast Asian languages and literature, cultural theory, and media studies at the Department of Thai, Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand. He received a PhD in Asian Literature, Religion, and Culture from Cornell in 2018. His doctoral project titled, “Atmospheric Archives: Post-Cold War Affect and the Buddhist Temporal Imagination in Southeast Asian Literature and Visual Culture,” received the 2018 Lauriston Sharp Prize for best dissertation.

CATRIONA MILLER is a PhD candidate in the History Department at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Her dissertation, Gendering the Cambodian State (1900 – 1970) utilizes transnational feminist methods to recast the political history of Cambodia during the transition from a French Protectorate to a neutral Buddhist nation-state. She conducted this research with generous funding from the NSEP Boren Fellowship and Center for Khmer Studies Fellowship.

ARNIKA FUHRMANN is an interdisciplinary scholar of Southeast Asia, working at the intersections of the region’s aesthetic, religious, and political modernities. She is an associate professor of Asian Studies at Cornell University and the author of Ghostly Desires: Queer Sexuality and Vernacular Buddhism in Contemporary Thai Cinema (Duke University Press, 2016).


Alexandra Dalferro
Phd Candidate, Cornell University

Chairat Polmuk
Lecturer, Chulalongkorn University

Catriona Miller
PhD Candidate, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Arnika Fuhrmann
Associate Professor, Cornell University

Elizabeth Wijaya
Assistant Professor, Department of Visual Studies and Director, Centre for Southeast Asian Studies at the Asian Institute, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, University of Toronto

Main Sponsor

Asian Institute


Centre for Southeast Asian Studies

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