Thai Buddhist Modernism: Human Rights Discourse as Formulated by Thai Buddhist Monks and its Historical Development


  • Panutat Yodkaew


discourse, text, intertextuality, human rights, Theravada


Critical discourse analysis is a useful method for uncovering the underlying ideologies embedded in discourses and the larger culture that create those discourses. This article aims to study the identity of human rights discourse as formulated by three Thai Buddhist monks and to investigate when such discourse was formed and how the discourse has developed through time, especially when viewed from the perspective of critical discourse analysis. The author attempts to shed light on the discursive strategy through which the modern concept of human rights is linguistically represented in contemporary Thai Buddhist literary works.Trisikkha and puñña are found to count as episteme and reflect the ideological assumptions upon which most contemporary Theravada discourse is based. The first Theravada discourse on human rights emerged during the Cold War when liberalist discourse competed against those of Communism for ideological hegemony. Human rights discourse, as formed by Thai Buddhist monks, is arguably deemed a part of the spectrum of Thai Theravada counter discourse against materialism, consumerism and neo-imperialism. Theravada Buddhist discourse has developed over the past decades to integrate various strands of discursive knowledge of modern disciplines and now has become even more sophisticated in plot, argument and use of intertextualities to differentiate their meaning.

Author Biography

Panutat Yodkaew

Independent researcher


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How to Cite

Yodkaew, P. (2023). Thai Buddhist Modernism: Human Rights Discourse as Formulated by Thai Buddhist Monks and its Historical Development. Journal of Thai Studies, 16(1), 189–222. Retrieved from



Research article