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Special Events

The Moral Economy of Health Care in Thailand

The South East Asian Institute of Global Studies (SEAIGS) presents the following special public lecture as part of the ongoing PAYAP PRESENTS series.

"The Moral Economy of Health Care in Thailand"

Thursday, 5 July 2012, 5pm to 6pm

Pentecost Building, Room 317

Speaker: Bo Kyeong Seo, PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology,  Australian National University

Since the universal health coverage scheme has been adopted in Thailand with the aim of providing access to care for the uninsured population, this national policy has proven its merit and popularity both in the sphere of public health and national politics. How is the right to health translated and instantiated by everyday practices of care and treatment? How does the norm of universality contend with profound socio-economic inequalities in the local population which includes a large number of non-citizens? How does the obligation of the state to provide health care for the poor resonate with dominant political ideologies in Thailand? The analysis of the moral economy in a public hospital reveals middle grounds of political struggles which are enmeshed with shared and contested ideas on control, rights, obligations, reciprocity and justice. Rather than its disciplinary and regulatory impacts on the population, the values and meanings attached to health care define the scope of biopolitics in contemporary Thailand. In this paper, I drawn on findings from ethnographic research conducted in a community hospital in Chiang Mai that approached the community hospital as a care-nexus. The three different designations of the universal health coverage – samsip bat raksa tuk lok, bat theong, lak prakan sukhaphap tuan na - reflect competing norms and sources of political authority to set the boundaries of the universal, the imagined moral community. In the community hospital bureaucracy, on the other hand, the scope of care is contingent on continuous, concrete and specific interpersonal ties between patients, medical staff and institutions including the state. Consequently, biopolitics in contemporary Thailand is constituted in two ways: as the flexible aggregation of marginal subjects into the recipients of the sovereign gift of care, and as the bodily allegiance to the shifting moral and economic order of caring for life.

Note: This event will be conducted in English.


For more details, log onto:

South East Asian Institute of Global Studies 
Payap University
Chiang Mai 50000, Thailand


lamphun-wat phra that hariphunchai-01     
       ited in mid-town, Wat Phra That Hariphunchai was built during the reign of King Arthitayarat, a descendant of Queen Chamthewi some 800 years ago.A principal landmark is the 46-metre tall golden Chedi which contains a hair of the Lord Buddha, having nine-tiered umbrella, made of gold weighing approximately 6,498.75 grams...

Chiang Rai

      on the bank of the Kok River within town area, contains what is believed to be the oldest Holy Relic even before King Mengrai built Chiang Rai. Doi Chom Thong has been a sacred site for aextremely long time. The site was surely reverenced as the home of local spirits before Buddhism arrived in the area.

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