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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Ladyboys and Good Sons: Contemporary Gender Identity in Northern Thai Trance Dance


Founded in the 13th Century as a kingdom, the Lanna region of northern Thailand stretches across parts of northern Burma, northern Laos, and a small portion of southern China. Lanna society retains its own alphabet, dialects, as well as visual culture. Additionally, Lanna spiritual practices are largely Animist in origin. Belief systems and rituals that go back possibly over a millennium and refer to humans’ relationship with and dependence on spirits of the dead are found in various forms throughout the region. Prominent among these is the Chiang Mai region, including the cities and surrounding areas of Chiang Mai, Lamphun, and Lampang.

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