“Public” and “Private”: Notes on Media, Performance, and the Public Sphere in the Lao PDR
Bret Johnston

Ph.D. Candidate

Department of Anthropology
University of Wisconsin-Madison


In light of the Lao government’s recent ban on the showing of Thai media in public places, my paper considers what may be an emerging distinction between ideas of “public” and “private” in contemporary Laos. In particular, such policies point to what may be a de facto recognition of the limits of state power on the part of the LPRP. I consider these issues by way of a comparison between two musical performances I observed in Laos in 2003, each of which is implicated with emerging media privatization in different ways.