Childbirth and Tradition in Northeast Thailand

Forty Years of Development and Cultural Change

by Anders Poulsen

  • Published: 2007
  • Pages: 283 pp.
  • illustrated
  • Series: NIAS Monographs
  • Series number: 109
Available from NIAS Press worldwide
ISBN Paperback: 978 87 7694 003 4, £18.99 ()

•Reports the results of a rare 40-year long study
•Unmatched description of details in birth traditions and their changes over time
•Includes ritual texts in Isan-Thai and with English translations

Anders Poulsens term as a UNESCO expert terminated in 1962, but he has returned to the same area of Northeast Thailand many times since, most recently in 2005. As such, this beautifully illustrated volume offers a rare study of Isan-Thai customs and belief associated with pregnancy and birth and how they have changed over almost half a century.

Using a psychological and socio-therapeutic framework, Anders Poulsen discusses the function of various birth rites as well as giving an unmatched description of all traditions specifically connected to pregnancy and birth. He includes an interesting description of the tradition of confinement by fire (yuu-fai) and documents that it is still widely practiced, contrary to what has been reported. He also puts forward a theory of why some traditions maintain their importance while others fade away.

The findings of this study are supported by the transcription in Isan (and translated into English) of the ritual texts that are used in these rites.

author image not supplied

Anders Poulsen born 1925. Teacher’s Certificate 1947, M.A. Psychology  1957. Mostly worked in the public school system. 1961 and 1962 a  UNESCO post  Bangkok, Thailand.

Anders Poulsen born 1925. Teacher’s Certificate 1947, M.A. Psychology  1957. Mostly worked in the public school system. 1961 and 1962 a  UNESCO post  Bangkok, Thailand. Since then a life-long interest  in Thai village culture. 1981 director of the Danish Psychological Press. Retirement in 1992.
In whole career involved in official and semi-official commissions dealing with development of  the  Danish educational system. President  of the Danish Association for School Psychologists 1971-77 and founding president for the International School Psychology Association (ISPA), 1982- 84. Executive Secretary for ISPA 1984 -2006. Honorary member of both above associations. Honary doctor from Srinakharinwirote University, Bangkok, 1988.

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by
From journal:
Thomas Oakland, University of Florida

"Dr Poulsen’s focus on childbirth in this

"Dr Poulsen’s focus on childbirth in this rural area serves as the most in-depth analysis of this topic that ever was or will be attempted."

by
From journal:
Stanley J. Tambiah, Harvard University

"The distinctive feature and achievement of Ande

"The distinctive feature and achievement of Anders Poulsen’s study is that it is longitudinal in scope spanning some forty years. … For this reason alone it is unique in the social science ethnographic literature pertaining to Thailand, Laos, Burma (and possibly the rest of Southeast Asia). … It is a tour de force, unmatched by any other account pertaining … first to Northeast Thailand and Laos, and then to Thailand as a whole."

by Lisa M. Vandemark
From journal:
Journal of the Siam Society, Vol. 97

"Dr Poulsen’s book is a meticulous report of change over time in Baan Phraan Muean village, and of the behavioral and cultural response of the villagers.  This work has broad relevance for helping us understand the psychological impacts of social change, and learn how to mitigate their harm, particularly as the pace of change quickens and reaches into preciously remote areas.

"Dr Poulsen’s book is a meticulous report of change over time in Baan Phraan Muean village, and of the behavioral and cultural response of the villagers.  This work has broad relevance for helping us understand the psychological impacts of social change, and learn how to mitigate their harm, particularly as the pace of change quickens and reaches into preciously remote areas.

The design and visual appeal of the book captivates the reader and opens a fascinationg window on Thai village life."

by Jana Igunma, British Library
From journal:
ASEASUK News 45, 2009

 Poulsen’s work proves how important it is to work with original texts and with those who are still able to understand the ritual and religious background of these texts which may appear strange and perhaps unreasonable to the outsider.

 Poulsen’s work proves how important it is to work with original texts and with those who are still able to understand the ritual and religious background of these texts which may appear strange and perhaps unreasonable to the outsider. Poulsen’s revelations about the traditional confinement, for example, show that traditions and practices considered to have died out were still very much alive when he conducted his research in Northeast Thailand. Poulsen’s book highlights understanding of cultural diversity and oral traditions in particular – most especially the role they continue to play – even in modernising cultures and societies.

by Kiso Keiko
From journal:
Southeast Asian Studies, vol. 46, no. 3, 2008

"…enhances our understanding of birth-related rites in Notheast Thailand"

"…enhances our understanding of birth-related rites in Notheast Thailand"

by Blog Collection
From journal:
Southeast Asia Collection, Ohio University

“…a superb ethnographic account of the people….an exceptional piece of scholarship.”

“…a superb ethnographic account of the people….an exceptional piece of scholarship.”

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