Changes in Thailand
Matti Sarmela is a Finnish professor who has written a wonderful study titled “Laws of Destiny Never Disappear, Culture of Thailand in the postlocal world.” (2005) The entire book is available as a free download.
The author states that “This book represents environmental anthropology, but I do not consider as fundamental the adaptation of human communities to surrounding nature, the habitat, but to ‘reality’, those economic, political and social conditions that the natural environment also impacts upon. The real environment of cultures has been continuous change, and man has not be able to adapt to some existing state, but to a future that is within sight.”
What makes this book valuable are the many interviews conducted between the mid-1980s to the late 1990s. Peasant farmers, local merchants, car dealers and many others are interviewed and their opinions about changes to their life are recorded. There are sections on death rites, annual festivals, sex tourism, the supernatural, and Buddhism and that is just a brief start of the areas covered by this extensive study. The author first came to Thailand 30 years ago and his book includes not just a wealth of material about rural and city life over this period, but a provocative framework to follow the nature of change that has occurred over this period.
There are also many striking photographs.
The download is in PDF format. It is a very large file so it takes some time to completely download. The book, however, is well-worth the effort.
For anyone interested in the culture and history of Thailand, this books is a must read.