The Construction of Regional Identities Challenging the Nation-state: Hero Cults in Lan Na (Northern Thailand)
The upper north of Thailand is demand autonomy of old Lan Na. In the cultural sphere, Northern Thai historical legends and myths are used to construct a particular Lan Na identity by popularizing these legends and myths through theatre plays, historical films, monuments, and other means. It will be analysed how the (re-)construction of this ethno-regional identity is achieved through modern media and how it potentially challenges schemes of national integration, as devised by Bangkok and its agencies in the North. This process shall be studied by focusing on the case studies of Queen Camadevi (the legendary female-founder of Hariphunchai who introduced Buddhism to present-day Lamphun), King Mangrai (the founder of Chiang Mai and Lan Na), and King Kawila (ruler of Lampang who, in alliance with Siam, defeated the Burmese in the late eighteenth century). Literary and historical-philological research of the written sources (such as chronicles, folktales, popular histories, theatre-plays, etc.) is combined with qualitative approaches of social anthropology.