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CES Global Education Seminar: Dr James Burford

Matters below the belly button”: Sexualities and education in Thailand

Tuesday 5th December, 2-3pm, IAS Seminar Room (Millburn House)
Dr James Burford, Thammasat University, Thailand

Seminar as part of the MA in Global Education and International Development

From the perspective of outsiders Thailand is often seen as a ‘paradise’ of sexual freedom. The prevalence of public gender non-conformity and the visibility of the commercial sex industry are often taken as evidence that Thailand has relatively liberal attitudes toward sex and people who cross sexual/gender norms. Yet, the state of LGBTI rights and wellbeing in Thailand is much more complex than such an initial reading might imply. Thailand does have a long history of sex, sexual and gender non-normativity, but this should not be mistaken for wide scale social acceptance in the present. Thailand remains a complicated place, where the increasing visibility of sexuality and gender minorities in media and on the street coexists alongside taboos about the public discussion of sex, discrimination across multiple sectors, and mounting evidence of a comparatively high burden of ill-being. In this presentation James begin by characterising the intersection of education and sexual and gender diversity in Thailand, and then report on two recent projects he has been involved with. One project was part of a wider evaluation of Thai comprehensive sexuality education, and used visual methods in order to generate data about the learning experiences of Thai secondary school students. The second project collected life stories of Thai sexuality and gender minorities in order to understand their experiences of discrimination and exclusion within education and other markets and services.


James Burford works at the Faculty of Learning Sciences and Education, Thammasat University. He is a graduate of The University of Auckland, Victoria University of Wellington, and Canterbury University. James researches across the fields of higher education and gender, sex and sexuality studies. He specialises in qualitative and textual research that is informed by post-critical theories of education, feminism and queer theory. He is also interested in innovative research methodologies which take on the challenge of researching and representing affective phenomena. The questions James has been considering most recently concern how mobility to Thailand shapes the subjectivities of expatriate academic workers. James co-edits the blog Conference Inference with Emily F. Henderson.

This seminar forms part of the MA in Global Education and International Development, however all members of the University are welcome to attend. Please use the form below to register your interest for room capacity reasons.


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