Dynamics of the Ancient Boxing Dance of Sakon Nakhon: The role of Muay Boran dance performances in the development of the Thai nation-state

Writer : Naruebodin Saleepun
Year : 2024

This paper explores the interplay between invented traditions and the Thai nation-state, using the martial art form, Muay Boran, as a case study. The art form serves as an emblem of Thai national identity, yet its roots lie in a regional, not national, past. Drawing upon theories of invented tradition, the study interrogates Muay Boran as an artificially constructed heritage at both local and national levels, further delving into the role of nostalgia in shaping cultural narratives. Despite the martial art's appropriation and commercialization for political and economic gain, it remains a powerful symbol, stimulating national unity and quelling separatist tendencies. Nonetheless, cultural preservation efforts risk stagnation, often promoting an exotic otherness at the expense of genuine cultural evolution. The study concludes by advocating for a balanced approach that acknowledges cultural dynamics and the inevitable transformation of traditions over time.