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Charnvit K. by R. Ileto

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Charnvit K. by R. Ileto

Ajarn Charnvit: A brief study of a Thai historian-activist
by his former classmate, Reynaldo Ileto

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Charnvit K. by R. Ileto

  1. 1. 10/10/2011<br />AjarnCharnvit<br />AbriefstudyofaThaihistorian-activist<br />byhisformerclassmate,<br />ReynaldoIleto<br />ThaihistorianCharnvitKasetsiri<br />•Bornin1941ofaprovincial<br />politicalfamily,groomedto<br />becomeanambassador,<br />wasrecruitedbytheThai<br />ForeignMinistry<br />•DidhisMAattheelite<br />OccidentalCollegein<br />California<br />•Becamedisillusionedbythe<br />Thaigovernment’ssupport<br />fortheUSwarinVietnam<br />•Resignedhiscivilservice<br />positionin1967toenrollin<br />thePhDinSoutheastAsian<br />HistoryatCornell.<br />Charnvitandhissupervisor,<br />OliverWoltersatCornell,1968<br />(throughthehiddencameraof<br />classmateReyIleto)<br />1<br />
  2. 2. 10/10/2011<br />Education<br />1963B.A.Diplomacy(Honors),ThammasatUniversity,<br />Bangkok<br />1967M.A.Diplomacy,OccidentalCollege,LosAngeles<br />1972Ph.D.inSoutheastAsianHistory,CornellUniversity<br />(minorinPoliticsandGovernment)<br />Employment<br />1973-2001Lecturer:HistoryDepartment,Thammasat<br />University.<br />1981-83Head:HistoryDepartment,ThammasatUniversity<br />1982-85DeputyDirector:ThaiKhadiInstitute,Thammasat<br />1983-88ViceRector:ThammasatUniversity<br />1991-94Dean:FacultyofLiberalArts,Thammasat<br />1994-95Rector(President):ThammasatUniversity<br />SomepublicationsinEnglish(mostareinThai)<br />•TheRiseofAyudhya:AHistoryofSiamintheFourteenth<br />andFifteenthCenturies,KualaLumpur:OxfordUP,1976.<br />•ThaiPolitics:1932-1957,ThakChaleomtiarana,ed.,<br />(CharnvitKasetsiriandThinaphanNakhata,contributors),<br />Bangkok:SocialSciencesAssociationofThailand,1978.<br />•“ThaiHistoriographyfromAncientTimestotheModern<br />Period,”inAnthonyReidandDavidMarr,eds.,Perceptions<br />ofthePastinSoutheastAsia,1979<br />•Bibliography:SoutheastAsianStudiesinThailand,compiled<br />withT.PetchlertananandS.Saiyawong,1991.<br />•"Thai-Burmese-Lao-CambodianBorders:ASurveyReport,"<br />tr.byC.Tingsbadh,SoutheastAsianNetworkBulletin,<br />December1992.<br />•“Thailand-Cambodia:ALove-HateRelationship,”Kyoto<br />ReviewofSoutheastAsia,No.3,March2003.<br />•“WilltheMekongSurviveGlobalization”,KyotoReviewof<br />SoutheastAsia,No.4,October2003.<br />2<br />
  3. 3. 10/10/2011<br />•"Iconsidermyselfasa<br />SoutheastAsianistandI<br />connectedmyselfwith<br />majoreventsinSoutheast<br />Asia.”<br />•Bornin1941,theyearof<br />PearlHarbor.Hishome<br />townisafewkilometers<br />fromthecampwherethe<br />Japanesecametobuild<br />the“DeathRailroad”and<br />bridgeontheRiverKwai.<br />•Retiredin2001,sameyear<br />astheWorldTradeCenter<br />collapse.“Ihaveseenboth<br />PearlHarborinHawaiiand<br />GroundZeroinNYC.”<br />Sharingexperiencesata<br />workshopoftheNUS<br />SoutheastAsianStudies<br />Program,November2004<br />Familyandeducationalbackground<br />•Camefromconservativebackground.Uppermiddle<br />classfamily.Wenttoatopsecondaryschoolandto<br />ThammasatUniversity,forhisBAinDiplomacy;gotthe<br />highestmarkandwasawardedtheKing’sprize.<br />•ThegreatgrandsonofthefamousmissionaryDrBradley<br />(whofailedtoconvertmanyThais)cametoseehimin<br />1965togivehimaRockefellerscholarship(tryingto<br />converthim?).<br />•ThewarinIndochinamadeitsoeasyyinThailand,,beingg<br />anally,togetascholarshiptoAmerica.<br />•HeresignedfromtheForeignAffairsministrytogoto<br />America,butwasstillinthecivilservice,intendingto<br />returntobecomeambassadororsomething.<br />3<br />
  4. 4. 10/10/2011<br />“TimeandSpace”contextofour<br />experience<br />•GraduatedfromThammasatin1963,workedinBangkok<br />CityHallandMinistryofForeignAffairs.Thenhewas<br />offeredascholarshiptoAmericaforfurtherstudies.<br />•TheAmericanswerewagingwarinIndochina,pouringin<br />aidandmoneytotheirallies,likeThailand.Soeasyto<br />getascholarship.[Weweren’tnecessarilythebestand<br />brightest.]<br />•HewasacceptedfirstbytheUniversityofthePhilippines<br />(UP).UPinthe1960swasoneofthetopinSoutheast<br />Asia.ManyThammasatfacultymembersareUP<br />graduates,mainlyinEconomics.<br />•HehadaSEATO(SEATreatyOrganization)granttogo<br />toUP,butjustbeforehelefttheRockefellergrantcame.<br />•Nowstudentsarecomplainingit’ssodifficultforthemto<br />gooverseas.Adifferentsituationitwasbackthen.<br />Americansojourn,1965-73<br />•ArrivedinAmericainJuly1965,atthetimetheWatts<br />[racial]riotsinLosAngelesweretakingplace,which<br />shockedandconfusedhim.<br />•Wenttoaveryconservativesmallcollege-Occidental<br />college-arecruitinggroundforCIA;hadCIAfriends;his<br />friends’fatherswereclosetotheKingofThailand.<br />•ProfoundlyaffectedbytheescalatingwarinIndochina,<br />Tonkinresolution.Ablackfriendtoldhimthewarwas<br />mostbarbaric.TheBurmeseUThant,secretarygeneral<br />oftheUNhadsaidthattoo.<br />•WasintheUSfrom1965toearly1973(totalof7years)<br />•Thosedaysifyouwereoverseasyoucan’tgohome<br />often.Heonlywenthometwice.Thushewasembedded<br />inAmericansocietyatthattime.<br />4<br />
  5. 5. 10/10/2011<br />StudiesinAmericagavehimaclearerview<br />ofSoutheastAsia,exposedlies<br />•“WhatIfoundinAmericawasshocking.”Going<br />toAmericaexposedthe“lies”theywerefed<br />locallyinBangkok.<br />•BeforeIarrivedinCaliforniahewenttherewitha<br />beliefinthemythofapeacefulandintegrative<br />[Thai]society.Foundoutbylate60sthat<br />AmericanswerebombingVietnam“butwein<br />Thailanddidn’tknow.”<br />•Hecouldn’tbelieveatfirstthatThaiswere<br />implicatedinbombingoftheirneighbors.<br />“Studentactivismchangedmefromwantingtobe<br />anambassador(studydiplomacy)tostudying<br />SoutheastAsiabecauseofthewar.<br />Cornellanti-warrally,1969<br />5<br />
  6. 6. 10/10/2011<br />CornellYears-DiscoveringSoutheastAsia<br />viaAmerica<br />•“In1967IgraduatedMAinLosAngeles,wenttoCornell,<br />theremetReyIleto,freshfromaconvent,theAteneo.”<br />•ProbablywasthefirstThaitotakeIndonesianlanguage,<br />aswellasBurmese.Becameinterestedinneighboring<br />countries,cultures,languages,whileinAmerica.<br />•“DiscoveredSoutheastAsiaviaAmerica”<br />•SpentyearsatCornell.StudiedunderDGEHall,Wolters,<br />Kahin,Wyatt,Anderson.Theywereourteachers,our<br />mentors,andmanybecameourfriends.<br />•KahinpreferredtobecalledGeorge.ButCharnvitcouldn’t<br />say“George,”exceptwhenKahinwasadvisertoGeorge<br />McGovern(GeorgespeakingtoGeorgewasconfusing)<br />whoranforPresidentagainstNixon.<br />•McGovernlost,andCharnvitandhisfriendswere<br />“heartbroken.”<br />“IwentwithReyto<br />demonstrateinfrontof<br />theWhiteHouse.He<br />hadhiswhite<br />headband,thisguy.”<br />CharnvitinWashingtonDC,1970,withFilipino<br />studentBelindaAquino<br />6<br />
  7. 7. 10/10/2011<br />“Thingshappenedbyaccident…”<br />•…IneverheardofCornellUniversity.Itwaschosenby<br />somebodyelse.Iwasbeinggroomedforadiplomatic<br />career.SwitchedfromdiplomacytoSoutheastAsian<br />studies.Ididn’tknowwhatSEAStudieswas.Weall<br />wantedAmericanstudiesorEuropeanstudies…<br />•IdiscoveredSoutheastAsiainAmerica,theninJapan.<br />•Americaneducationwasweakontheory.Ibought<br />Toynbee,Ilookedatitforafewminutes,butcouldn’t<br />readbeyondfirstfewpages.<br />•OnlyE.H.Carr’s“WhatisHistory”captivatedhim.<br />•Knowsnothingaboutdeconstructionism,etc.,but<br />experiencesensitizedhimtotheconstructednature<br />ofknowledge.<br />SoutheastAsiawasmeaningfulinthecontextofthe1960’s<br />warandstudentactivisminthe1970’s.<br />“IgraduatedandthenIwenthome,andneverreturnedtothe<br />MinistryofForeignAffairs.IstayedatThammasat,inthe<br />middleofwhereeverythingwashappening,notfarfromthe<br />governmenthouse…<br />Threebigeventspeoplealwaysreferto,thathelivedthrough:<br />1.October1973studentuprising,whenthemilitary<br />governmentcollapsed.<br />2.October6,1976,whenthemilitarycamebackforabrief<br />periodupto1992.“BeinginThammasatyoucan’tescape<br />it.”EversincehecamebackfromAmericahewasinvolved<br />withstudents.Whenthe1976massacrehappenedhewas<br />viceRector;hehadtorunawaytotheKyotoUniversity<br />CenterforSoutheastAsianStudies.<br />3.May1992uprising,whenGeneralSuchindasteppeddown,<br />leadingtodemocraticreforms.<br />7<br />
  8. 8. 10/10/2011<br />Charnvit’sgenerationencountered<br />SoutheastAsianstudiesfromtheoutside<br />•“MyexperienceofSoutheastAsiaisfromAmerica,butalso<br />fromJapan.ThepioneerYoneoIshii.BeingwithJapanese<br />scholarsconnectedmewiththeToyotaFoundation,which<br />promotedSoutheastAsianstudiesinSoutheastAsia.<br />•HevisitedallthecountriesinSoutheastAsia,including<br />EastTimor.TheToyotaFoundationencouragedcrossing<br />boundaries,whiletheAmericanexperiencehadturned<br />themintoone-countryscholars.<br />•Intheearly1980shisgroupcametoSingaporeandthat’s<br />howhebecameacquaintedwithSoutheastAsianStudies<br />inSingapore.<br />•MyexperienceofSoutheastAsianstudiesisviatheUSA<br />andJapanandviamyexperiencewithstudentactivismin<br />Thailandplusthekindofactivitiestopromoteawarenessof<br />SoutheastAsiainThailand.[Endtrack]<br />ThaischolarsandColonialDomination<br />SoIdiscoveredSoutheastAsiabywayoftheUSAand<br />Japanplusmyinvolvementwithwhat’shappeningin<br />Thailandnow.<br />•Iconsidermyselfandmostofthe[SoutheastAsia]<br />programasanAmericanproductinsomefunnyway.<br />•OnthequestionReyraisedwhetherinThailandweare<br />uncomfortablewiththequestionofAnglo-American<br />domination,thesituationinThailandmightbeabit<br />different.WemightbeabituncomfortablewithEuropean<br />dominationofThaistudies,forexample,Coedesandthe<br />Frenchdominatingsomethemes.<br />•Butabitdifferent…SomeofusareagainstCoedesor<br />againstsomeotherfarang’s(foreigner’s)interpretationof<br />SoutheastAsianstudiesinordertobecriticalofour<br />establishment.Mainlyameansofbeingcriticalofthe<br />Royalorofficialdominationofscholarship.Wegoagainst<br />theWestinordertoattackBangkokdomination.<br />8<br />
  9. 9. 10/10/2011<br />Woodside<br />Steinberg<br />DavidWyatt(left)–the<br />Cornellhistorianwho<br />Wyatt<br />wroteRoyalty-centered<br />history<br />Whythelanguageofscholarshipmatters<br />•“Idon’tknowwhetherIndonesiaandThailand<br />mightbesimilar.Wewriteinourofficial<br />languages.ThePhilippinesandSingaporeare<br />morecomparable[i.e.scholarswriteinEnglish].<br />•WhenyoutalkaboutAnglo-Americanor<br />Europeandominationofscholarshipin<br />SoutheastAsia,thisisdeterminedby<br />dependenceoncertainlanguages.<br />•InmycasewhenIwriteandspeakinThaiIam<br />notdominatedbyAnglo-AmericanorEuropean<br />scholarship.<br />9<br />
  10. 10. 10/10/2011<br />CharnvitisnotanotherMaungHtinAung<br />•“ItakewhatisusefulfromDGEHall.Idisregardhis<br />argumentswithMaungHtinAung.<br />•IorganizedtranslationofCoedesbookandarticlesinto<br />Thai.Selective.Hall’sHistoryistranslatedintoThai,third<br />printing.<br />•NotthesamesituationasinBurmawhenMaungHtin<br />AungasvicechancellorofUniversityofRangoonhadto<br />comeoutagainstDGEHall’sinterpretationoftheAnglo-<br />Burmesewars.<br />•AspresidentofThammasatIwouldn’tdreamofattacking<br />HallorWolters.<br />•Chanida’sMAthesisisagainstroyalhegemony.WhenI<br />writeandspeakinThaiwearenotdominatedby<br />Westernscholarship.ThesituationinThailandmaybe<br />differentfromelsewhere.<br />SoutheastAsiaawarenessinSEA<br />•“OnwhetherSoutheastAsia[consciousness]<br />existsinSoutheastAsia-maybe.Manyofour<br />studentsareinterestedinBurma.Although<br />retiredIstillhavealmost400studentsdoing<br />SoutheastAsianstudies.Manyaretaking<br />IndonesianandBurmeselanguages.<br />•“SoutheastAsia”hasaweakexistencestillin<br />Thailand.ThesameasintherestofSoutheast<br />Asia.Wereliedonoldfriends[toestablishSE<br />Studies],wemetinUSandJapan,etc.Wetried<br />tocreateaSoutheastAsianunity.Butstillquite<br />weak.<br />•Nationallybound,nationally-concerned<br />scholarshipisstillwithus.<br />10<br />
  11. 11. 10/10/2011<br />Activistscholarship<br />•“IwasinvolvedinstudentpoliticsatThammasat<br />andgotkickedout.ReyIletowentbackandhad<br />alltheadventuresatUP[Universityofthe<br />Philippines]untilhegotout.TaufikAbdullahwas<br />involvedinpolitics;hewasshelvedatonetime<br />atLIPI.<br />•“Insomewaysournations,includingThailand,<br />areverynewandalotofthingsarevery<br />unsettled.Wehavebecomeinvolvedinourown<br />problems,locallyandnationally.<br />[endtrack]<br />Challengingofficialviewsofregionalties<br />•Involvementinstudentmovementbychancewhenhe<br />cameback.TheknowledgehehadcollectedinUSwas<br />anattempttorejecttheofficialunderstandingofThai<br />societyandThailand’srelationswithitsneighbors.<br />•ThisknowledgechangedthewayoflookingatThai<br />societyandThailand’sneighbors.Challengedtheidea<br />thatbeingnevercolonizedtheyaredifferent.[influence<br />ofBenAnderson]Wearedifferent,weareunique,but<br />wehavealotofthingsincommonwiththeFilipino,the<br />Singaporean,theBurmese,etc.BlacklistedbyBurmese<br />government.<br />•Togiveanalternative,unofficialversionofThaihistoryof<br />SoutheastAsia.[hedidn’tgetthisfromWyatt]<br />•BurningofThaiembassyinPhnomPenh(in2003)led<br />himtowriteinThaiexplainingthecomplexhistoryof<br />mutualattitudesbetweenThaiandKhmer.<br />11<br />
  12. 12. 10/10/2011<br />“InterdisciplinaryAreaStudies,theysay,is<br />likechopsuey…<br />•Youputinthisandthatbutyouhavenodiscipline.Inaway,<br />Yes,but…No.<br />•BenedictAndersoncameupwiththeorybecauseofhisarea<br />studyexperience.Heisoneofthefewwhocancrossthe<br />boundaries.MovementfromIndonesiatoThailandandto<br />Philippines–duetohisexperience,hecameupwiththe<br />bookImaginedCommunities.<br />•BenisfluentinFilipinonow.HelecturesinThaiinThailand.<br />Hehascrossedtheboundaries.OurgoodprofessorWolters<br />also,becauseofhisChineselanguage,enabledhimto<br />crossfromVietnamtoAyuthayatoAngkor.Languageis<br />important.<br />•ThebooksofHobsbawmandAndersonaremuchin<br />demandfortranslation.<br />“Thingshappenedbyaccident…”<br />•…IneverheardofCornellUniversity.Itwaschosenby<br />somebodyelse.Iwasbeinggroomedforadiplomatic<br />career.SwitchedfromdiplomacytoSoutheastAsian<br />studies.Ididn’tknowwhatSEAStudieswas.Weall<br />wantedAmericanstudiesorEuropeanstudies…<br />•IdiscoveredSoutheastAsiainAmerica,theninJapan.<br />•Americaneducationwasweakontheory.Ibought<br />Toynbee,Ilookedatitforafewminutes,butcouldn’t<br />readbeyondfirstfewpages.<br />•OnlyE.H.Carr’s“WhatisHistory”captivatedhim.<br />•Knowsnothingaboutdeconstructionism,etc.,but<br />experiencesensitizedhimtotheconstructednature<br />ofknowledge.<br />12<br />
  13. 13. 10/10/2011<br />Onmergingtheorywithexperience.<br />•Localeventsinformedhisthinking.Thetimeand<br />theperiodmatter–Charnvitlivedthroughthe<br />1973studentmovementand1976coup.<br />•Weofourgenerationwhowentoverseas,we<br />encounteredthespecterofcomparison.<br />•RizalandChulalongkornbelongedtosame<br />generation.WhynotputRizal’spictureonthe<br />coveroftheThaitranslationofNolimeTangere?<br />•Wearetooconcernedwithourownnational<br />problems.AsWolterssaidtoTaufik:thisisa<br />timetounderstandSoutheastAsia.To<br />understandSoutheastAsiaistounderstand<br />ourselvesaswell.<br />Rector(President)ofThammasat,1994-5<br />Alldressedupto<br />meettheKingon<br />Commencement<br />Day,27July1994<br />13<br />
  14. 14. 10/10/2011<br />Thehistorian-civil<br />servantwithformer<br />classmateRey<br />Ileto,July1994<br />TheRectorandastudentinfrontofRama V’sportrait<br />14<br />
  15. 15. 10/10/2011<br />Charnvit(middle)<br />withManuel<br />Sarkisyanzonavisit<br />tothePhilippines,<br />December1985<br />Charnvit,Sarkisyanz,etc.,atRizal’sancestralhouse<br />15<br />
  16. 16. 10/10/2011<br />OtherThaihistorians<br />ThongchaiWinichakuland<br />ThanetAphongsuwanin<br />RectorCharnvit’soffice(1994)<br />ChatthipNartsuphain<br />hisstudy(2005)<br />Longretiredbutstillbusyaseverathis<br />officeinThammasat,April2007<br />16<br />

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