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376th meeting :   Princes without a Principality. The House of Champasak" 

Tuesday May 27th 2014.

A talk by Dr. Ian G. Baird

The Talk: Few people who have not visited Laos know where “Champassak” is located. Even fewer are aware of the Champassak Royal House. This is not surprising, as Champassak is not included as one of Southeast Asia’s countries, and thus is not prominently identified on any world maps. Nor is the Champassak Royal House legally recognized anywhere in the world. One could characterize Champassak as a loser of European colonial expansion in Southeast Asia, and the subsequent period when the region was divided into modern nation states, as it was never elevated to modern statehood. Yet the Champassak Royal House persists amongst politically exiled members of the family who fled Laos when the country was taken over by communists in 1975. Indeed, family members recently celebrated the 300th year anniversary of the Champassak Royal House—not in Champassak itself, the space that originally constituted it—but in Paris, France, where much of the Na Champassak royal family now reside. Here we consider state sovereignty, the production of Champassak royal space and territory amongst ‘non-state royals’—royalty in foreign exile, and the politics of rank and recognition, including different forms of performativity amongst Champassak royals in France.


The Speaker: Dr. Ian G. Baird is Assistant professor at the Department of Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison. See his profile at:


E-mail contact: ibaird@wisc.edu



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