Inside Thailand: Exploring Bangkok’s Grand Palace with Leslie Castro-Woodhouse

Inside Thailand: Exploring Bangkok’s Grand Palace with Leslie Castro-Woodhouse


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Located in the heart of Bangkok, the Grand Palace is in fact a complex of buildings and has been the King’s official residence since it was built in 1782. It has also served as the administrative seat of government for more than 150 years. Together with an expert on Thai history and culture, we will take a closer look at the glittering statues and elaborate decorative arts which Thai kings use to express their political power.

We will learn about the rituals surrounding the Emerald Buddha, the story of why the Hindu epic story of the Ramayana adorns the palace walls, and where kings (and sometimes queens) were once buried. Together we will discover the goings-on in the “outer,” “middle” and “inner” zones of the palace grounds – and reveal the parallels between these zones as both microcosm and crucible of Siamese culture and society. 

In this series, Dr. Leslie Castro-Woodhouse, author of Woman between Two Kingdoms: Dara Rasami and the Making of Modern Thailand, will guide us through the social and political context of Thailand’s Grand Palace in Bangkok. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with a deeper understanding of Thai culture and society, Buddhism and the significance of the monarchy, and the role of the palace in Thai politics and society from yesterday to today. 

For more in this multi-part series, we invite you to explore:

Dr. Castro-Woodhouse has studied Asian cultures and histories since her first visit to Thailand in 1987. After earning a master’s degree in Asian Studies in 2000, she went on to research Thai history and culture, landing a Fulbright IIE grant in 2004-05. Since completing her PhD in Asian History in 2009, she has taught at UC Berkeley and the University of San Francisco. She has published several articles on her research, and her first book, Woman between Two Kingdoms, will be published by Cornell University Press in May 2021.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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