Language and Cultural Rights in the Ethnic Revival Movement of the Black Tai in Khaoyoi, Petchaburi

  • Sumittra Suraratdecha


The study on which this chapter is based is a sociolinguistic study of local community involvement in the initiation and implementation of an ethnic revival movement, with an emphasis on local school curricula in a Black Tai community in Khaoyoi district, Petchaburi province, Thailand. It addresses the notions of ethnocultural identity, language rights, stigma, prejudice, and discrimination in an educational sphere. The research aims to examine the ethnic revival movement of the Black Tai in terms of a social group’s rights-claiming behavior as well as to investigate the psychological outcomes of the local curricula such as better attitudes and better self-esteem. The Nongprong School and Khaoyoi School in Khaoyoi district, Petchaburi province, are selected as the research sites for these schools have chosen to incorporate the Black Tai ethnic language and culture in their school curricula. The present study aims to answer three research questions: (1) What kinds of stigma and prejudice are present in the research sites? (2) How is the ethnic revival movement interpreted in terms of rights-claiming behavior? (3) What are the impacts of such movement on the community and its members, especially students? The result shows that instead of assimilating into the majority Thai culture, the Black Tai people try to revive their ethnic identity by networking and maintaining their ethnic identity, reinforcing group solidarity to negotiate and regain social dignity from historical stigma. In addition, by having such inclusive local curriculum content, not only the big mosaic of human diversity can be better understood in the community but the local history, local wisdom, and the pride of one’s ethnic identity are also promoted.


Ethnic Minority Ethnic Identity Multicultural Education Ethnic Minority Community Ethnic Language 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This research was supported under the Culture and Rights Research Project funding scheme, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropolgy Centre, Thailand.


  1. Assapaporn, N. (2009). The development of housework learning units using inquiry learning activities to promote multicultural understanding and life quality skills of Grade Level 3 students. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Chiangmai University, ChiangMai.Google Scholar
  2. Banchun, O. (2009). Khru thanom khongyimlamai chaoban nongprong [Lecturer Thanom Khongyimlamai Nongprong Villager]. Warasaan samoson sinlapa watthanatham [Journal of Art and Culture], 30(3), 48–54.Google Scholar
  3. Banks, J., & Banks, C. A. M. (1995). Handbook of research on multicultural education. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  4. Brown, M. (1965). From ancient Thai to modern dialects. Bangkok: White Lotus Co. Ltd.Google Scholar
  5. Burusphat, S. (1997). Encyclopedia: The Black Tai. Bangkok: Sahadharmmik.Google Scholar
  6. Burusphat, S., Deepadung, S., Suraratdecha, S., Ardsamiti, N., Patpong, P., & Setaphong, P. (2011a). Kaan chai phaasaa lae thassanakhati to phaasaa lae Kaanthongthiew choeng chattiphan khong klum chattiphan nai phumiphak tawantok khong prathatethai [Language use and attitudes towards ethnic language and ethnic tourism among ethnic groups in the western region of Thailand]. Bangkok: Saangsue Press.Google Scholar
  7. Burusphat, S., Deepadung, S., Suraratdecha, S., Ardsamiti, N., Patpong, P., & Setaphong, P. (2011b). Language vitality and the ethnic tourism development of the Lao ethnic groups in the western region of Thailand. Journal of Lao Studies, 2(2), 23–46.Google Scholar
  8. Chakshuraksha, N. (2003). Language maintenance and shift in a displaced Tai language: A case study of Black Tai at Nongkhe village, Thailand. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Mahidol University, Nakhon-Pathom.Google Scholar
  9. Chen, A. (1998). The philosophy of language rights. Language Sciences, 20(1), 45–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chiengthong, J. (2003). Politics of ethnicity, indigenous culture and knowledge. In K. Mingsarn & J. Dore (Eds.), Social challenges for the Mekong region (2nd ed., pp. 147–172). Bangkok: White Lotus.Google Scholar
  11. Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand. 2007. Retrieved August 12, 2010, from
  12. Crystal, D. (2000). Language death. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Farrungsang, B. (2008). The multicultural education knowledge in 3 southern border provinces: Trend for the educational reformation. Journal of Education, 19(1), 1–14.Google Scholar
  14. Goffman, E. (1963). Stigma: Notes on the management of spoiled identity. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  15. Grimes, B. (2000). Ethnologue: Languages of the world (14th ed.). Dallas: SIL International.Google Scholar
  16. Hayami, Y. (2006). Redefining “otherness” from Northern Thailand. Introduction: Notes towards debating multiculturalism in Thailand and beyond. Southeast Asian Studies, 44(3), 283–294.Google Scholar
  17. Heller, M. (2008). Language choice and symbolic domination. In M. Marilyn, A. M. de Majia, & N. Hornberger (Eds.), Encyclopedia of language and education. Vol. 3: Discourse and education (2nd ed., pp. 201–209). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  18. Hewison, K. (1999). Localism in Thailand: A study of globalisation and its discontents (CSGR Working Paper No. 39/99, pp. 1–27). University of Warwick, Coventry, UK.Google Scholar
  19. Hinton, L. (2001). Language revitalization: An overview. In L. Hinton & K. Hale (Eds.), The green book of language revitalization in practice (pp. 3–18). San Diego: Academic.Google Scholar
  20. Jaikliang, W. (2007). The effects of teaching by using the historical method on learning achievement on the topic of Sukhothai histrorical development, in SOC 32101: social studies, religion and culture, of Mathayom Suksa II students at Banhinlad School in Phangnga Province. Unpublished Master’s thesis. Sukhothai Thammathirat University, Nonthaburi.Google Scholar
  21. Keyes, C. (2008). Ethnicity and the nation-states of Thailand and Vietnam. In P. Leepreecha, D. Mccaskill, & K. Buadaeng (Eds.), Challenging the limits: Indigenous peoples of the Mekong region (pp. 13–54). Chiangmai: Mekong Press.Google Scholar
  22. Klamklomchit, T. (2008). Khunnaang song [The song elites]. Petchaburi: Petchphumkaanphim.Google Scholar
  23. Kosonen, K. (2005). Education in local languages: Policy and practice in Southeast Asia. In First language first: Community-based literacy programmes for minority language context in Asia. Bangkok: UNESCO.Google Scholar
  24. Krauss, M. (1992). The world’s languages in crisis. Language, 68, 4–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. May, S. (2001). Language and minority rights: Ethnicity, nationalism, and the politics of language. Harlow: Longman.Google Scholar
  26. Munger, F. (2006/2007). Culture, power, and law: Thinking about the anthropology of rights in Thailand in an era of globalization. New York Law School Law Review, 51, 818–838.Google Scholar
  27. National Human Rights Commission. National Human Rights Commission Act, 2542 [1999], Section 3. Retrieved August 12, 2010, from
  28. Pinto, M. (2009). Equality of cultural identity. Published PhD dissertation, University of Toronto, Toronto.Google Scholar
  29. Pitiphat, S., & Phoonsuwan, S. (1997). Laosong: phonlawat khong rabop watthanatham nai rop song sattawat [Lao Song: Cultural dynamics in the last two centuries] Research report. Manuscript.Google Scholar
  30. Pitiphat, S., On-dam, B., & Thammaphimuk, P. (1978). Lao song: Raingan kanwichai [Lao Song: Research report]. Bangkok: Thammasat University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Romaine, S. (2002). The impact of language policy on endangered languages. International Journal on Multicultural Societies, 4(2), 2–28.Google Scholar
  32. Ryser, J. (2011, May 18–20). Whose quality of life? In what kind of city? In Proceedings REAL CORP 2011 (pp. 1163–1168). Tagungsband.Google Scholar
  33. Smalley, W. (1994). Linguistic diversity and national unity: Language ecology in Thailand. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  34. Sribusara, M. (1979). Thai Dam ramphan [The lamentation of Thai Dam]. Bangkok: Bannakich Press.Google Scholar
  35. Sungtong, E. (2006). Pramuan khwam ru nai phahu watthanatham: Sueksa changwat chai daen phaktai [Compilation of multicultural education knowledge in Southern Border Provinces]. Unpublished manuscript.Google Scholar
  36. Sungtong, E. (2009). Strategic leadership in multilingual society: Rethinking concepts, theories and practices. Journal of Education, 23(1), 1–16.Google Scholar
  37. Suwanruangsri, K. (1999). A development of multicultural school and community partnership program for the improvement of preschool teaching in southern Muslim community. Unpublished master’s thesis. Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok.Google Scholar
  38. UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights. (1965). International convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination (ICERD). Retrieved August 12, 2010, from
  39. Wongtani, C. (2010). Educational travel project for learning about harmonious ways of living in plural community: ‘When Muslims visit the temple and Buddhists meet the mosque. Unpublished manuscript.Google Scholar
  40. Yothakhun, S. (1998). A development of a multicultural education program to promote self-understanding and preschool children in the Northeastern region. Unpublished master’s thesis, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of AsiaMahidol UniversitySalayaThailand

Personalised recommendations