International Relations of the Peoples: The Unheard History of Thailand-Laos Relations

Main Article Content

Thanachate Wisaijorn


This article argues that International Relations that discusses the issues of Thai-Lao relations is elite-oriented. Employing the historical approach, this article calls for a more multidisciplinary approach that focuses on the issues of the Thai-Lao relations. The discussion on the relat ions of the two states do not have to be limited within International Relations as a discipline but extended to other fields of social sciences such as political science in government, anthropology, sociology, geography and borderland studies. The voices of the peoples on the ground that are engaged with the Thai-Lao relations will be more heard. The research question of this article is what are they ways in which the elites have played out in defining the bilateral relations of Thailand and Laos from 1954 to the present. During the colonial days, the elite’s monopoly over space and time during the colonial days is academically present. This trend continued when Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) was established in 1975 and in 1989 when the Cold War was over. Since then, the voices of the peoples on the grounds are more reflected in the discussion of the Thai-Lao relations, despite still being state-centrically conceptualised. This article argues that the academic inclusion of other fields in social sciences will help support the voices of the peoples on the ground. Accordingly, International Relations as a disciplined that analyses the relations of Thailand and Lao PDR will be able to shed lights on more layers of interaction.

Article Details

How to Cite
Wisaijorn, T. (2022). International Relations of the Peoples: The Unheard History of Thailand-Laos Relations. Political Science and Public Administration Journal, 13(1), 199–232. Retrieved from
Academic Article


Agnew, J. (1994). The Territorial Trap: The Geographical Assumption of International Relations Theory. Review of International Political Economy, 1(1), 53-80. Retrieved January 30, 2015, from

Amer, R. (1999). Conflict Management and Constructive Engagement in ASEAN’s Expansion. Third World Quarterly, 20(5), 1031-1048.

Arendt, H. (1958). The Human Condition. Chicago & London: The University of Chicago Press.

Baird, I. (2013). Millenarian Movements in Southern Laos and North Eastern Siam (Thailand) at the Turn of the Twentieth Century: Reconsidering the Involvement of the Champassak Royal House. South East Asia Research, 21(2), 257-279. Retrieved October 10, 2019, from

Breazeale, K. (1975). The Integration of the Lao States into the Thai Kingdom. (Doctoral dissertation), Oxford University.

Bunnag, T. (1968). The Provincial Administration of Siam from 1892 to 1915. (Doctoral dissertation), Oxford University.

Chakrabarty, D. (2008). Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial thought and Historical Difference. Princeton & Oxford: Princeton University Press.

Chanthavanich, S., & Pliansri, T. (2008). Botsarup Wikhro [Conclusion and analysis]. In Chanthavanich, S., & Pliansri, T. (Eds.), Monglao Nai Prathet Thai: Nayobai Lae Kandamnoenkan Khong Phakrat Thai (Song Pan Ha Roi Sip Paet Thueng Song Pan Ha Roi Ha Sip Song). [Lao-Hmong in Thailand: State policies and operations (1975-2009] (pp. 159-175). Bangkok: Department of Border Affairs, Royal Thai Armed Forces Headquarters.

Charoensri, N. (2010). Kwamruammue Thang Setthakit Nai Anuphumiphak Lum Maenam Khong [Greater Mekongsubregion economic cooperation]. In S. Bamrunsuk (Ed.), Chunlasan Khwammankhong Sueksa. [Security Studies Phamphlet], (86). Bangkok: Square Prince Co, Ltd.

Charoenvattananukul, P. (2020). Ontological Security and Status-seeking: Thailand’s Proactive Behaviours During the Second World War. London & New York: Rouledge.

Coussot, A., & Ruel, H. (1898). Douze Mois Chez Les Sauvages Du Laos. Paris: Libraire Maritime et colonial.

Eisenhower, D. D. (1963). Waging Peace: Mandate for Change, 1953-1956. New York: Doubleday.

______. (1965). Waging peace: The White House years, 1956-1961. New York: Doubleday.

Elsing, S. (2019). Navigating Small-Scale Trade Across Thai-Lao Border Checkpoints: Legitimacy, Social Relations and Money. Journal of Contemporary Asia. 49(2), 216-232. Retrieved January 1, 2020, from

Erlanger, S. (1989). Thailand Seeks to Shape a ‘Golden Peninsular’. Retrieved March 3, 2018, from

Evans, G. (2002). A Short History of Laos: The Land in between. Australia: Allen & Unwin.

Herz, J. (1959). International Politics in the Atomic Age. New York: Columbia University Press.

______. (1968). The Territorial State Revisited: Reflection on the Future of the Nation-State. Polity, 1(1), 11-34.

High, H. (2009) Dreaming Beyond Borders: The Thai/Lao Borderlands and the Mobility of the Marginal. In Gainsborough, M. (Ed.). On the Borders of State Power (pp. 75-100). Abingdon & New York: Routledge.

Hillmer, P. (2010). A People’s History of the Hmong. Saint Paul: Minnesota Historical Press.

Hutchings, K. (2008). Times and World Politics: Thinking the present. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

IIjima, A. (2018). The Invention of “Isan” History. Journal of the Siam Society, 106, 171-200. Retrieved October 10, 2018, from,of%20most%20of%20the%20region

Ivarsson, S. (2008). Creating Laos: The Making of Lao Space Between Indochina and Siam, 1860-1945. Copenhagen: NIAS Press.

Ivarsson, S., & Goscha, C. (2007). Prince Phetsarath (1890-1959): Nationalism and Royalty in the Making of Modern Laos. Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 38(1), 55-81. Retrieved June 16, 2021, from

Jiwalai, R. (1994). Thai Foreign Policy towards Laos 1975-1990. (Doctoral dissertation), University of Hawaii.

Kasetsiri, C. (2011). Pramuan Sonthisanya Anusanya Khwamtoklong Banthuegkhwamkhaochai Lae Phaenthi Rawang Sayamprathet Thai Kap Prathetasianphueanban Kamphutcha Lao Phama Malesia [Collected treaties – conventions – agreements – memorandum of understanding and maps between Siam/Thailand – Cambodia – Laos – Burma – Malaysia]. Bangkok: The Foundation for The Promotion of Social Science and Humanities Textbooks Project.

Kennan, G. (1947). The Source of the Soviet Conduct. Foreign Affairs, 25(4), 566-582.

Kesboonchoo Mead, K. (2007). Kanmueang Thai Yuk Sarit-Thanom Phatai Khongsang Amnat Lok [Thai politics during Sarit-Thanom Regimes under a global power tructure]. Bangkok: 50 Years Foundation, The Bangkok of Thailand.

Keyes, C. (1966). Peasant and Nation: A Thai-Lao Village in a Thai State. (Doctoral dissertation), Cornell University.

Khana Kammakan Chamra Prawatsat Mueang Khong Chiam. (1997). Prawat mueang khong chiam [History of Khong Chiam]. Ubon Ratchathani: The Committtee for History Revision of Khong Chiam.

Kislenko, A. (2002) Bending with the Wind: The Continuity and Flexibility of Thai Foreign Policy. International Journal, 57(4), 537-561. Retrieved January 10, 2012, from

Kissinger, H. (1994). Diplomacy. New York: Simon & Schuster, Rockefeller Center.

Kutranon, S. (1982). Lao Kap Kwammankhong Khong Prathet Thai Sueksa Nayobai Khong Thai To Lao Rawang Phutthasakkarat Song Phan Ha Roi sip Paet Thueng Song Phan Ha Roi Yi Sip Song [Laos and the secutiry of Thailand: A study of Thai policy towards Laos, 1975-1980]. (Master thesis), Chulalongkorn University.

Ladavalya, B., M. L. (1970). Panha Lao [The problems of Laos]. Chiang Mai: Textboook Project, Faculty of Social Science, Chiang Mai University.

Le Bow, R. N. (2003) The Tragic Vision of Politics: Ethics, Interest, and Orders. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Lee, M. N. M. (2012). Dreams of the Hmong Kingdom: The Quest for Legitimation in French Indochina, 1850-1960. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press.

Meyer, L. (1931). Exposition Coloniale Internationale Paris 1931: Indochine Français. Hanoi.

Molland, S. (2012). The Perfect Business? Anti-trafficking and the Sex Trade Along the Mekong. Honolulu: University Press of Hawai’ii.

Morgenthau, H. J. (1965). Vietnam and the United States. Washington D.C.: Public Affairs Press.

Ngaosyvathn, M., & Ngaosyvathn, P. (1994). Kith and Kin Politics: The Relationship Between Laos and Thailand. Manila: Journal of Contemporary Asia Publishers.

Ngaosyvathn, P. (1985). Thai-Lao Relations: A Lao View. Asian Survey, 25(12), 1242-1259.

Ó Tuathail, G. (1996). Critical Geopolitics: The Politics of Writing Global Space. London: Routledge.

O’Sullivan, P. (1998). Antidomino. In Tuathail, G. Ó, Dalby, S., & Routledge, P. (Eds.) The Geopolitics Reader (pp. 69-73). London and New York: Routledge.

Oldfield, D. (1998). The Restructuring of Thailand’s Foreign Policy Towards Laos, 1988-1991. (Doctoral dissertation), Northern Illinois University.

Paribatra, P. (2013). Thailand’s Relationship with Its Neighbors: A Study of Border Conflict from 1973 to 2011. (Doctoral dissertation), Northern Illinois University.

______. (2019). Foreign Policy Analysis in Thailand. In Na Thalang, C., Jayanam, S., & Poonkham, J. (Eds.). International Relations as a Discipline in Thailand: Theory and Sub-fields. Oxon & New York: Routledge.

Paribatra, S. (1984). Strategic Implication of the Indochina Conflict: Thai Perspective. Asian Affairs, 11(3), 28-46.

Pavie, A. (1902). Mission Pavie: Indo-Chine, 1879-1895. Paris: n.p.

______. (1903). Contes Populaire du Cambodge, du Laos et du Siam. Paris: n.p.

Pholsena, V., & Banomyong, R. (2006). Laos: From Buffer State to Crossroads? Chiang Mai: Mekong Press.

Phookongchi, P. (2003). Phonkrathop Chak Khan Yuet Dan Sunlakakon Wangtao to Khwamsamphan Rawang Thai Lao [Impact of the seizure of Wang Tao Custom Office on Thai-Lao Relations]. (Master thesis), Chiang Mai University.

Phouxay, K. (2010). Patterns of Migration and Socio-economic Change in Lao PDR. (Doctoral dissertation), University of Umea.

Phuangkasem, C. (1984). Thailand’s Foreign Relations, 1964-1980. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asia Studies.

Picanon, E. (1901). Le Laos Français: Avec Carte Politique De L’indochine. Paris: Rue Jacob 17.

Poonkham, J. (2019). Why is there no Thai (critical) International Relations Theory?: Great Debates Revisited, Critical Theory and Dissensus of IR in Thailand. In Na Thalang, C., Jayanam, S., & Poonkham, J. (Eds.). International Relations as a Discipline in Thailand: Theory and Sub-fields. Oxon & New York: Routledge.

Rigg, J. (2005) Living with Transition in Laos: Market Integration in Southeast Asia. London & New York: Routledge.

______. (2007). An Everyday Geography of the Global South. London & New York: Routledge.

Ruampongpattana, V. (1988). Panha Khokhatyaeng Thai Lao Nai Chuang pi Phuttasakkarat Song Phan Ha Roi Sip Paet Theung Patchuban [Thai-Lao conflicts from 1975 to the present]. (Master thesis), Chulalongkorn University.

Rungmanee, S. (2014). Compromised Margin: Migration and Agrarian Transformation in the Northeastern Thai-Lao Borderlands. (Doctoral thesis), Sydney University.

Said, E. (1977). Orientalism. London: Penguin Books.

Sankhamanee, J. (2006). Mekong Border Riverscape: Space and Identity Construction of the Lao Long-Distance Boat Traders. (Master dissertation), Chiang Mai University.

______. (2012). Decolonising the River: Transnationalism and the Flows of Knowledge on Mekong Ecology. In Huang, S., Hayes, M., & Lee, S. K. (Eds.). Managing Transnational Flows in East Asia. Seoul: Jimoondang.

Sirikrai, S. (1979). Thai-American Relations in the Laotian Crisis of 1960-1962. (Doctoral dissertation), State University of New York at Binghamton.

______. (1984). A Research on Causes of Disputes Along the Thai-Lao Border. Bangkok: The Institute of Asian Studies, Chulalongkorn University.

______. (2003). Nayobai Tang Prathet Khong Satharanarat Prachathipatai Prachachon Lao [Foreign policy of Lao People’s Democratic Republic].

In Sonsri, S. (Ed.). Esia Tawanok Chiang Tai Nayobai Tang Prathet Nai Yuk Lokaphiwat [Southeast Asia: Foreign Policy in Globalization]. Bangkok: Chulalongkorn University Press.

Soja, E. W. (1989). Postmodern Geographies: The Reassertion of Space in Critical Social Theory. London & New York: Verso.

Somsanith, P., & Vaiyakhone, S. (2012). Baebhian Phumsat: Chan Matthayomsueksa Piti Sam. Vientiane: The Ministry of Education and Sports.

Stevenson, C. A. (1972). The End of Nowhere: American Policy Toward Laos Since 1954. Boston: Beacon Press.

Strate, S. (2015). The Lost Territories: Thailand’s History of National Humiliation. Honolulu: University of Hawaii’I Press.

Stuart-Fox, M. (1997). A History of Laos. Singapore: Cambridge University Press.

Tambiah, S. J. (2013). Galactic Polity in Southeast Asia. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, 3(3), 503-534.

Theeravit, K., & Semyeam, A, (2002). Thai-Lao Relations in Laotian Perspective. Jayanam, S. (Trans.) Bangkok: The Institute of Asian Studies, Chulalongkorn University.

Viravong, M. S. (1964). History of Laos (US Joint Publication Research Service, Trans.). New York: Paragon Book Reprint Corp.

Walker, A. (1999). The Legend of the Golden Boat: Regulation, Trade and Traders in the Borderlands of Laos, Thailand, China and Burma. Honolulu: University of Hawai’I Press.

______. (2008). Borders in Motion on the Upper-Mekong: Siam and France in the 1890s. New Mandala. Retrieved September 3, 2019, from

Winichakul, T. (1994). Siam Mapped: A History of the Geo-body of a Nation. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.

Wisaijorn, T. (2015). Re-thinking the Thai-Lao Border in International Relations: Can Anti-Geopolitics Reveal a Human Dimension? (Master dissertation), Durham University.

______. (2018). Riverine Border Practices: People’s Everyday Lives on the Thai-Lao Mekong Border. (Doctoral dissertation), Loughborough University.

______. (2019). The Inescapable Territorial Trap in IR: Thai-Lao Border from 1954 to the Present. Geopolitics, 24(1), 194-229.

Wolters, O. W. (1999). History, Culture and Region in Southeast Asian Perspectives. New York: Cornell University Press.