In addition to being very committed to training and fighting in Muay Thai as much as I can in Thailand, I also have a deep academic root in me and I revel in exploring abstract concepts and concrete facts that help to better understand one’s place and one’s meaning in the world and the liberties awarded and denied through inclusion and exclusion. Unfortunately there is a dearth of academic study of Muay Thai and even less that is produced in English; the articles that have been written are somewhat dispersed and at times hard to find, so below I’ve compiled a hyper-linked list of articles that I’ve discovered over time on the subject of Muay Thai, as well as on performed Thai Masculinity (which Muay Thai is). If you’ve found other resources please do add them in the comments. Most of these I read 4 years ago when attempting to secure a Fulbright Grant to study Muay Thai pedagogic practices, with some emphasis on gender construction, in Thailand. This is, of course, an evolving list. I post a 1 page excerpt of the article below the title when I’m able to do so, so you can get a feel for the writing style and subject matter. Almost all of these are full article copies.
Anthropologist Pattana Kitiarsa, who passed this last January at the age of 45, was perhaps the most influential academic on Muay Thai in English. Here is the Nation on Pattana and his passing.
“Of Men and Monks: The Boxing-Buddhism Nexus and the Production of National Manhood in ContemporaryThailand” (full article)
“Lives of Hunting Dogs’ – Reconceptualizing Thai Masculinities Through an Ethnography of Muay Thai” (full article)
additional works of interest:
Beyond Syncretism: Hybridization of Popular Religion in Contemporary Thailand, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 36 (3), pp 461–487 October 2005 (full article).
Peter Vail produced the only Ph.D English language dissertation on Muay Thai that I know of, a 400 page work Violence and Control: Social and Cultural Dimensions of Muay Thai Boxing (1998) Ithaca, Cornell University.
“Modern Muay Thai Mythology” – Peter Vail partial PDF Crossroads: An Interdisciplinary Journal. Vol. 12, No. 2, 1998 – Only the first 11 pages can be seen of this article. An excerpt below:
Muay Thai – Inventing Tradition for a National Symbol – Peter Vail PDF (full article) – Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia, Volume 29, Number 3, November 2014, pp. 509-553 (Article)
Thai Masculinity – Positioning Nakmuay Between Monkhood and Nakleng – an excerpt from Peter Vail’s Ph.D. dissertation: Violence and Control: Social and Cultural Dimensions of Muay Thai Boxing (1998)
additional works of interest:
Thailand’s Khmer as Invisisble Minority – Language, Ethnicity and Cultural Politics in Northeastern Thailand, Peter Vail (full article)
“Transgender Culture and Thai Boxing.” Stéphane Rennesson (University of Paris X – Nanterre) (full article)
“Thai Boxing – Networking of a Polymorphous Clinch” full PDF – in the anthology of essays Marital Arts as Embodied Knowledge: Asian Traditions in a Transnational World – an excerpt below:
Associated Subject Matter
‘Wild West’ Nak Leng and Thai Masculinity Ideals
From Pre-Colonial Androgyny Siam to Hyper-Sexualized Thailand – Genders
Female Fighters and Identity
“Hard Women, Soft Women – The Social Construction of Identities among Female Boxers” (full article) Christine Mennesson
Arguments for the Buddhist Ethics and Moral Guidance in Muay Thai
Dancing Under the Mongkhon: How Thailands National Sport
Can Teach us a Distinctive Moral Code (full article PDF) by Sarah George
Muay Thai Pedagogic Practices and a Theory of Learning
Development of a Muay Thai Enthusiast: An Interpretation of A.N. Whitehead’s Theory of Learning (full article – 127 pages, Masters Thesis, PDF) – author: Michael Shane Henry
Tony Myers – Scoring Muay Thai
Tony Myers is the foremost authority on scoring in the west “A comparison of the effect of two different juding systems on the technique selection of Muay Thai competitors” (full article) by Tony Myers1, Alan Nevill2, Yahya Al-Nakeeb
Master’s Thesis on Orientalism and Sportification
Lethal floral patterns: an examination of the effects of Orientalism on the sport of Muay Thai – Timothy R. Macias