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DIASPORA: Exit, Exile, Exodus of Southeast Asia
Publication Launch & Panel Discussion

19 May 2018

Event date: 19 May 2018
Location: MAIIAM second floor, permanent collection hall
Time: 5–7 pm
MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum, Chiang Mai, Thailand
The event is free but booking is essential. Book now at info@maiiam.com
The Panel will be followed by a reception

Panellists
Charnvit Kasetsiri (Thammasat University, Bangkok), Rachel Harrison (SOAS, University of London), Muhammad Arafat Mohamad (National University of Singapore), Edoardo Siani (Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University), Lee Weng Choy ( Art Critic), and Loredana Pazzini-Paracciani (SOAS, University of London).

We are pleased to launch the publication DIASPORA: Exit, Exile, Exodus of Southeast Asia, produced in conjunction with the group exhibition of the same title. In line with MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum’s dedication to research and education, the publication features specially commissioned essays by Charnvit Kasetsiri (Thammasat University, Bangkok), Eva Bentcheva (Tate Research Centre: Asia, London), Rachel Harrison (SOAS, University of London), Muhammad Arafat Mohamad (National University of Singapore), Edoardo Siani (Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University), and, editor of the publication, Loredana Pazzini-Paracciani (SOAS, University of London).

Richly illustrated, the essays anchor reflections on diaspora in present-day Southeast Asia as a physical, conceptual, and religious space of transformation as it unfolds in detailed analyses of the artworks featured in the exhibition, and is mapped onto three moments of the diasporic condition—to exit, or to leave the home country; to be exiled, or refused return, oftentimes for political reasons; and to move in exodus, as a group of stateless and dispossessed people fleeing crises or war—which constitute the three curatorial propositions to frame, through contemporary art, diaspora as a platform for productive thinking.

To celebrate the launch of the publication, a panel discussion will be held on 19 May at 5 pm with the contributing writers moderated by distinguished art critic Lee Weng Choy to share further insights into the pressing issues of migration and displacement in Southeast Asia, and their geopolitical impact on the region, as they reveal their relevance in global discourse. The panel will be structured around a close analysis of the essays, from presenting personal imbrication with the border, an intimate narrative of the Patani diaspora in Mecca, the role of Buddhism in the rural-to-urban migration in Thailand, to unpacking the works featured in the exhibition that consider the people and cultures in the margins of Southeast Asia. 

About the Writers
Charnvit Kasetsiri is Professor Emeritus at Thammasat University, Bangkok. Prominent historian and scholar of Thai studies, He obtained his MA in diplomacy and world affairs in 1967 at Occidental College, Los Angeles, California, on a Rockefeller scholarship, and PhD in Southeast Asian History in 1972 at Cornell University; his thesis The Rise of Ayudhya: a History of Siam in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries was published in the same year. He served as a lecturer of history at Thammasat University from 1973 to 2001, and founded the Southeast Asian Studies Program in 2000. In 2007, he campaigned to rename Thailand back to Siam to reflect the reality of its ethnicities, languages, and cultural identities. Charnvit was awarded the 2012 Fukuoka Academic Prize, Japan, and the 2014 Distinguished Contributions to Asian Studies by the Association for Asian Studies, United States. In his latest works, he examines war and peace, and the relations between the Southeast Asian countries, especially of Thailand and Cambodia.

Muhammad Arafat bin Mohamad is a social anthropologist and lecturer of Southeast Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore. A member of the Patanian diaspora, he began his research and community work in the Patani region of Thailand in 2002 during his undergraduate studies. He received his PhD in social anthropology in 2013 at Harvard University. With his current research focus on social memory, politics of ethnicity, and transculturality, Arafat is writing a book based on his dissertation about the notion of ‘belonging’ among the Patanian diaspora largely based in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, but also in southern Thailand, Bangkok, and Kuala Lumpur. 

Rachel Harrison is a professor of Thai cultural studies at SOAS, University of London. She has published widely on issues of gender and sexuality, modern literature and cinema in Thailand as well as comparative literature of Southeast Asia. In addition to her co-edited volume The Ambiguous Allure of the West: Traces of the Colonial in Thailand (2010), she edited a volume by Thai authors on Western theoretical approaches to Thai literary analysis, titled Disturbing Conventions: Decentering Thai Literary Cultures (2014). She is currently working on a research project in culture and public health relating to cancer in Northeast Thailand and is editor of the quarterly journal South East Asia Research.

Edoardo Siani is an anthropologist and postdoctoral research fellow at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University. He specialises in Thai culture and society. Based in Bangkok since 2002, Siani received his PhD at SOAS, University of London. His current work explores the intersection between Buddhist cosmology, politics, and economy in contemporary Thailand. He has contributed to news platforms such as BBC and Al Jazeera.


Eva Bentcheva is an art historian and curator. She received her PhD in art history from SOAS, University of London, where she was Senior Teaching Fellow on diaspora contexts and visual culture. Her research focuses on performance art from South and Southeast Asia, and their diasporas. In 2016, she studied the performance practices of Filipino artist David Medalla as Visiting Research Fellow for the Tate Research Centre, where she is also currently Adjunct Researcher and is developing a project on performance art and conceptualism in the Philippines. Eva has contributed to the creation of an archive of Southeast Asian performance art for the Live Art Development Agency in London. She is a co-director of Batubalani Art Projects, an independent organisation which promotes Philippine modern and contemporary art across museums and universities in Europe.

About the Moderator
Lee Weng Choy is an independent art critic and consultant based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and the president of the Singapore section of the International Association of Art Critics. Lee was an artistic co-director of The Substation arts centre in Singapore, and has taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Sotheby’s Institute of Art, Singapore. He has worked on several projects with various arts organisations, including Ilham Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore, and National Gallery Singapore. Lee writes on contemporary art and culture in Southeast Asia, and his essays have been published in journals such as Afterall, and anthologies such as Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian ArtOver Here: International Perspectives on Art and Culture, and Theory in Contemporary Art Since 1985.

About the Curator
Loredana Pazzini-Paracciani is an independent curator, writer, and lecturer of Southeast Asian contemporary art. Her research and fieldwork revolve around critical social and political issues, and, complemented by continuous dialogue with artists and art professionals, have leveraged Southeast Asian contemporary art through collaborative exhibitions, among others, Heads or Tails? Uncertainties and Tensions in Contemporary Thailand (2017) with Sundaram Tagore Gallery, New York; The Game/Viet Nam by LE Brothers (2016) with Jim Thompson Art Center, Bangkok; and Architectural Landscapes: SEA in the Forefront (2015) with Queens Museum, New York. Loredana is currently working on a debut anthology titled Interlaced Journeys: Diaspora and the Contemporary in Southeast Asian Art, which explores the connections between diasporic movements and contemporary art in Southeast Asia. She is based in London, United Kingdom, and Bangkok, Thailand.

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DIASPORA: Exit, Exile, Exodus of Southeast Asia’s extended program and activities

To continue to explore, through contemporary art, issues of displacement and hybridity of the region, we proudly present a series of activities in the upcoming months:

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