Goscha & Ivarsson (eds): Contesting Visions of the Lao Past – Lao Historiography at the Crossroads [2003]

While the birth of any nation is always more complicated than official historiographies purport, the complex positioning of Laos at the crossroads of a wide range of historical, geographical and cultural currents makes this particularly true. It is well known that Laos’ emergence as a modern nation-state in the 20th century owed much to a complex interplay of internal and external forces.

This book argues that the historiography of Laos needs also to be understood in this wider context. Not only do the contributors to this volume consider how the Lao have written their own nationalist and revolutionary history ‘on the inside’, they also examine how others – the French, Vietnamese, and Thais – have tried to write the history of Laos ‘from the outside’ for their own political ends. Rather than divorcing these two trends, this book demonstrates that they were inter-linked. Nationalist historiography, like the formation of the nation-state, did not emerge within a nationalist vacuum but was rather contested from the inside and the outside. The volume’s approach has applications and implications far beyond Laos and shows that studying small countries counts.

• First study to directly address the issue of Lao identity in histories of the formation of the modern state of Laos.
• The volume’s approach has applications and implications far beyond Laos.
• Christopher E. Goscha is “a scholar with an authoritative grasp of the relevant source materials” (South East Asian Research, 8:1, 2001) and has published several critically acclaimed studies on the rise and fall of French Indochina and its replacement by the independent states of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
• Søren Ivarsson has pioneered the study of Lao identity in the historical literature of the country.

Christopher E. Goscha and Søren Ivarsson: Introduction
Part I: Before modern boundaries
Michael Vickery: Two Historical Records of the Kingdom of Vientiane
Volker Grabowsky: Chiang Khaeng 1893–96: A Lue Principality in the Upper Mekong Valley at the Centre of Franco-British Rivalry

Part II: Contesting new Lao pasts: From the inside
Martin Stuart-Fox: Historiography, Power, and Identity: History and Political Legitimisation in Laos
Grant Evans: Different Paths: Lao Historiography in Historical Perspective
Chalong Soontravanich: Sila Viravong’s Phongsavadan Lao: A Reappraisal
Bruce M. Lockhart: Narrating 1945 in Lao Historiography
Peter Koret: Leup Phasun (Extinguishing the Light of the Sun): Romance, Religion, and Politics in the Interpretation of a Traditional Lao Poem

Part III: Contesting new Lao pasts: From the outside
Agathe Larcher-Goscha: On the Trail of an Itinerant Explorer: French Colonial Historiography on Auguste Pavie’s Work in Laos
Søren Ivarsson: Making Laos “Our” Space: Thai Discourses on History and Race, 1900–1941
Christopher E. Goscha: Indochinese Past Perfect: Communist Vietnam’s Revolutionary Historiography of Laos


Christopher Goscha is Associate Professor of International Relations and Southeast Asian History at the Université du Québec à Montréal. He has published widely on cultural, social, political, and diplomatic aspects of colonial Indochina and the wars for modern Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
Søren Ivarsson

Søren Ivarsson is an associate professor in the Department of History, University of Copenhagen. Well versed in the histories of Laos and Thailand, he is particularly interested in nationalism, state formation and historiography in these countries. His monograph, Creating Laos, was published by NIAS Press in 2008 and has attracted much acclaim.

Réf. Christopher E. Goscha & Søren Ivarsson (eds), Contesting Visions of the Lao Past. Lao Historiography at the Crossroads, Copenhagen, Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, NIAS Studies in Asian Topics # 32, 2003, 355 p.

Source : NIAS Press

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