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Title: 'Lives of hunting dogs': Muai Thai and the politics of Thai masculinities
Authors: Kitiarsa, P. 
Keywords: Male identities
Muai Thai
Thai cultural studies
Issue Date: Mar-2005
Citation: Kitiarsa, P. (2005-03). 'Lives of hunting dogs': Muai Thai and the politics of Thai masculinities. South East Asia Research 13 (1) : 57-90. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: In this article, the author uses case studies of muai Thai (Thai boxing), based on ethnographic fieldwork carried out in the provincial town of Nakhon Ratchasima and its vicinity between early 2000 and mid-2001, to engage critically with the current trend of gender studies in Thailand. The article argues that muai Thai, with its historical and cultural prominence, presents itself as an ideal candidate for Thai studies practitioners and students to rethink the culture of Thai men as well as to challenge pre-existing knowledge and understanding of male identities and masculinities in contemporary Thailand. Muai Thai offers itself as a promising cultural space to explore the ideas of 'hegemonic masculinity' or 'masculine domination' and its ramifications in a postmodern world. Through the narratives of young Thai boxers from the countryside, who have been widely perceived in Thai society as the 'hunting dogs' in the world of Thai boxing, the author contends that the forms and practices of masculinity in Thailand are plural, fluid, highly contested and contingent upon specific historical and cultural contexts. Indeed, there hardly exists an uncontested singular, fixed, overgeneralized, negative or oppressive Thai masculinity, as claimed by many specialists and students of Thai gender and sexuality. Muai Thai construes the culturally negotiated ideology and disciplinary practices of 'technologies of the self', which encourage men to work or perform their manly duties. The author's interpretation of muai Thai has demonstrated what Connell (1995) suggested as central to masculine identity, that '...being a breadwinner was a core part of being masculine'.
Source Title: South East Asia Research
ISSN: 0967828X
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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