via Bangkok Post, 28 September 2019: Feature on archaeologist Srisakra Vallibhotama and looking at archaeology beyond a nationalistic lens in Thailand.
Travelling around Thailand is a good way to learn about local history and culture. The challenge, however, is how to understand the country’s ancient past beyond the usual nationalistic fervour.
Anthropologist Srisakra Vallibhotama has the answer.
“First, forget the textbook history focusing on kingdoms. More precisely, stop believing Sukhothai was the Thai nation’s first kingdom,” asserts Ajarn Srisakra, one of the country’s most prominent and outspoken scholars.
According to textbook history, an influx of ethnic Thais from Yunnan in southern China migrated into upper Siam, ousted the Khmer rulers, founded Sukhothai and spread their new power far and wide. Sukhothai became the first Thai kingdom in the 13th century, followed by the kingdoms of Ayutthaya, Thonburi and Rattanakosin.
“I don’t buy this first-kingdom theory. It’s a product of Thai nationalism,” Ajarn Srisakra says bluntly.