(CfP) “The Pre-Modern State and Its Archival Remains ‒ The Contributions of Diplomatics to Thai Studies”

Jan Dressler's picture
Call for Papers
October 31, 2016
Subject Fields: 
Archival Science, Area Studies, Asian History / Studies, Historic Preservation, Southeast Asian History / Studies

Dear colleagues,

The Faculty of Social Sciences, Chiang Mai University, will host the 13th International Conference on Thai Studies from 15-18 July, 2017. We cordially invite participants from Thailand and abroad to join our panel on Thai & Southeast Asian diplomatics and to propose individual papers on this topic.

“The Pre-Modern State and Its Archival Remains ‒ The Contributions of Diplomatics to Thai Studies”

Panel Conveners: Jan R. Dressler (Hamburg) and Dr Hiroshi Kawaguchi (Aichi)

In recent years the auxiliary science of diplomatics has increasingly attracted attention as a means of investigating the development of the pre-modern Siamese state and its administration through the examination of its archival remains. This panel will be devoted to current research into these documentary artefacts of Siamese and Southeast Asian origin dating from the 16th to the late 19th century.

As a sub-discipline of historical inquiry, diplomatics provides a set of methods of examining written material of a non-literary, official nature (such as land titles, documents of taxation and labour control, royal grants, court records, legislation, etc.). Initially developed in Europe during the early 18th century as a method of scrutinizing the authenticity of official documents, the discipline of diplomatics has since then broadened and refined its methodology and thereby contributed to the understanding of pre-modern administration and government.

Research in diplomatics today not only endeavours to investigate the development of writing materials, inks, scripts (extrinsic elements), and the characteristic features of administrative texts and the employment of language therein (intrinsic elements) alone, but also attempts to elucidate the bureaucratic context and administrative practices in which these documents were generated and put to use. These different approaches help historians to assess the nature and value of often scattered documents as sources providing insight into the development and functioning of the pre-modern state, beyond their sole quality as repositories of particular political and economic information.

This panel aims at increasing awareness among colleagues and the interested public about the value of archival remains and the possible contribution of the diplomaticists’ approach to our understanding of these sources in particular, and more broadly to the study of the Siamese state and its development.

The meeting shall furthermore provide an opportunity for the exchange of experiences in the application of the methodology and the dissemination of insights gained during the re-search process in order to focus and facilitate future research.


Fellow researchers and scholars are cordially invited to contribute papers which address any of the following four aspects:

I) Extrinsic and intrinsic elements of archival sources

II) Design and practices connected to royal and official seals

III) Modes of drafting and issuing documents in pre-modern chancelleries and their function in public administration

IV) Questions of relevant terminology and the editing process of primary sources

The panel conveners equally encourage the contribution of papers concerning the diplomatic usages of polities from throughout the South- and Southeast Asian region, which may provide a comparative perspective onto the Siamese case.



In addition to providing a name, institutional affiliation and email, paper proposals should include a short abstract (ca. 250 words) and keywords. For further information concerning this panel and paper proposals, please contact the panel conveners:

Jan R. Dressler (PhD candidate, University of Hamburg, Germany)
Dr Hiroshi Kawaguchi (Aichi University, Japan)


The deadline for paper proposals is October 31st, 2016.

For further information about the 13th International Conference on Thai Studies, please visit the conference website at:


Or contact the 13th ICTS Secretariat:

icts13.cm@gmail.com / icts13@cmu.ac.th