Lampang Assessment: Revisiting a Classic Study of Field Research in Northern Thailand

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edited by Søren Egerod and Per Sørensen

The creation in 1969 of a field research station near Lampang in northern Thailand by the recently established Scandinavian Institute of Asian Studies was something of a gamble. The Vietnam War was spreading into Laos and Cambodia with a communist insurgency also growing in Thailand, not least in the north. Some scholars feared being compromised by Cold War schemes and maneuvers. Yet in the five years of the station’s existence a large number of Nordic scholars, often in partnership with Thai and other foreign colleagues, undertook research based at Lampang. Significant new research was initiated here, including archaeological excavations that rewrote the prehistory of mainland Southeast Asia and a mapping of the folklore and languages of upland minorities that helped decipher the linguistic history of the region’s lowland majority peoples. Following the closure of the station in 1974, an assessment of the project was made and combined with an extensive collection of papers based on research carried out at Lampang. The resulting volume had a limited circulation, a situation remedied by the publication of this revised and updated edition.

In a critical introduction, the new volume considers the research station in its time, a period of war and of cultural and political turmoil, an age when the academic world was being transformed by an influx of baby-boomer students, and a moment just before the advent of mass travel. Besides retrieving a lost collection of scholarly research, the volume offers insights for the equally massive changes sweeping higher education today. 

Professor Søren Egerod (1923–95) was a distinguished Danish linguist and sinologist who played a key role in the development of Nordic Asia scholarship in the modern era. He helped establish the Scandinavian Institute of Asian Studies (SIAS, now NIAS) in 1968 and led the institute through to his retirement in 1987.

Per Sørensen (1932–2015) was a pioneer in Southeast Asian archaeology who was director of the SIAS Lampang field research station over the five years of its existence.

Publication year: 2023
272 pp / 229mm x 152mm
ISBN: 978-87-7694-273-1, Paperback

NIAS Press