The ICTS13 organising committee responds to Thongchai Winichakul’s questions about their conference in July 2017 and academic freedom.

The Organising Committee of the 13th International Conference on Thai Studies (ICTS13) sincerely appreciates the timely concern and questions raised by Professor Thongchai Winichakul recently posted on New Mandala with regard to freedom of expression during the event, taking place in Chiang Mai in July 2017. The Committee undertakes to do its best to guarantee that all academically qualified papers will be accepted to be presented at the conference.

The title of ICTS13, Globalized Thailand? Connectivity, Conflict and Conundrums of Thai Studies, clearly indicates the organisers’ intention to encourage sound critical scholarship and to accommodate panels and individual papers that deal with a broad range of conflicts and conundrums in Thai society and Thai Studies.

As in previous ICTS events, the main criterion for acceptance is that papers are academically written, presenting arguments that are based on supporting evidence and sound reasoning. It goes without saying that presenters who wish to discuss issues of political sensitivity, such as the military coup, the monarchy or Article 112, will need to use their own judgement in presenting their arguments. The Organising Committee will neither interfere in topic selection, nor will the Committee or host institution (Chiang Mai University) be in a position to guarantee the safety of presenters whom the government at the time of the conference deems to have breached Thai laws.

The Organising Committee of ICTS13 will work with an International Advisory Committee as well as an Academic Committee in order to ensure that the conference will be organised to achieve academic standards and intellectual freedom at or above the level of ICTS06, organised in 1996 at Chiang Mai University.

As noted by Professor Thongchai, the Organising Committee would like to remind readers that the decision to host this conference was made prior to the coup in May 2014, without anticipating the unstable political situation that has followed and the continuing uncertainty over conditions that might prevail during the conference.In full recognition of these challenges, we remain committed to keeping the academic space as open as possible for critical scholarly enquiry in Thailand. Our ultimate aim in hosting ICTS13 is to foster genuine academic exchanges and debates so as to sustain and continue the vibrant academic interest in Thai studies.

Chayan Vaddhanaphuti, PhD
On behalf of ICTS13 Organising Committee
Chiang Mai University