Author: Saowanee Chinnalong – Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University, Thailand

This presentation aims to propose a challenge of communicating science in Thailand by examining historical and contemporary situation and suggest its future outlook. The key characteristics of Thai science communication from a historical perspective shows the significant role of Buddhism as an integral tool for Thai elites in encountering the West and the vital role of Thai monarchs in dealing with the Euro-American influence. The contemporary position demonstrations two main parties in the discourse, the government and the middle-class Thai.

The challenge my presentation explores is a mismatch of focuses between the government and Thai public regarding science communication. The disparities contain two layers creating difficult challenge. First, the disparities of interest in science. The Thai government, similar to governments in most countries tends to focus on the economic benefits of science. While the middle-class Thai public are rather interested in another kind of science- contemplative science and science-Buddhism dialogue. The second layer, although both the Thai government and Thai middle-class have indigenized science. However, the Thai government has focused on deploying the concept of ‘Thainess’ and the ‘monarchs’ to construct the identity of ‘Thai science’. By contrast, my preliminary survey drawing on print media and online-discussion forum illustrations that the Thai public expresses an extraordinary high level of interest in appropriating Einstein as a Buddhist thinker. I propose that these differences in foci between these two parties are inherent in the inevitable tension in science communication tends to remain in the future since Thai government has planned to launch more science museums underpin by the ideology of ‘Thai science’ and continued its policy aiming at nation competitiveness and science for economy. While the middle-class’s interested in the science-Buddhism dialogue tended to remain the same since the 1860s through to the current day and likely to continue to the future.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Individual paper
Theme: Time

Author: Saowanee Chinnalong PhD. Candidate, University of Leeds is one of the oldest online forums in Thailand. Established in 1996, it remains popular today with one million members and seven million page views per day. Using digital technology has clearly made it easy for the Thai middle class to join in discussions on This study analyses’s role as a platform specifically for science discussion in Thai culture. I focus on the discussion of Einstein in particular, since my preliminary survey drawing on the print media shows that the middle class expresses an extraordinarily high level of interest in Einstein. My presentation explores popular depictions of Einstein in terms of indigenous Thai appropriations of Einstein as a Buddhist thinker. From this I develop an understanding of his broader symbolic role in the Thai public view of science as a mode of passive contemplation rather than economically productive investigation.