Organized Panel Session
In her recent work on Cambodia, 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. Specifically, we explore mundane and monumental acts of cultural production as sites for the negotiation and reworking of broadly defined intimacies and identifications that connect the self with others.
Our analyses investigate how fluid, contingent, and contested ideas about gender, sexuality, and love are crystallized in everyday practice. Our papers showcase how these processes of codification are simultaneously shaped by and work to augment national, local, and individual identities. From texts to textiles, classrooms to forests, and wedding photos to state records, our 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 we begin our inquiries in the 1950s. We pay close attention to the formation of gendered identities and gendered relations as they have emerged at these sites and junctures, and we expand possibilities for alternative modalities of thinking and writing histories and cultures to upset established notions of sex, gender, and belonging.