Historical Presentations in the Lao
Texts: From the Independent to the Socialism Era
Dararat Matarikanon* and Yaowalak Apichatvullop**
*Associate Professor in History, Center for
Research on Plurality in the Mekong Region, Khon Kaen University, Thailand
**Assistant Professor in Sociology, Center for Research on Plurality in the Mekong Region, Khon Kaen University, Thailand
This paper presents some preliminary findings from a research on Representations of Lao History in the Lao Texts: From the Period of Independent Era to the Establishment of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic ( 1954 – 1986 ). The study has confirmed the historical significance of the mentioned period, as it was shown that this was the time for national building after acquiring independence from France. The history of this period was constructed, and presented in chronological style, as influenced by chronological writings of the past. The content of the history mainly focused on the core institutions, namely the state, religion, and kingdom. At the same time, the presentations of history in the period after the political revolution in 1975 was very much influenced by Marxism. During this period, Laos was transformed into a socialist state with the country’s name changed from “ the Kingdom of Laos” to “the Lao People’s Democratic Republic”. The study found there had been efforts to build up nationalism through local texts. In other words, the historical reality as presented in the texts were reproduced by the nation – state, and was used as means to socialize the younger generations. Such history was the history of struggles, competition between the dominating powerful foreign countries and the Lao people, and the final liberation of the country. In these presentations of the struggles, the Lao history has provided space to describe the kings in the royal period, common peoples movements, and ethnic group relations. It also made reference to the countries that were involved in the internal struggles after the second World War. For example, many texts allow some space for the description of Vietnam. Finally, the division of “we” and “they” or “the Nation’s enemies” can be clearly seen in Laotian texts. Thus, the younger Laotians will perceive this distinction of “we” and “they” from their elementary education.