A Brief Economic History of Land Rights in Thailand: From the Sukhothai Period to the End of King Chulalongkorn’s Reign. A Talk by Jessica Vechbanyongratana



This lecture is based on a recently published book that reassesses the nature and security of land rights in Siam from the Sukhothai period to the end of King Chulalongkorn’s reign. The study first reviews de jure land rights under traditional land laws prior to 1901. This is followed by an assessment of de facto land entitlement and security in Siam using primary documents from the nineteenth century, including approximately 10,000 19th century orchard land deeds from Bangkok and over 300 hundred 19th century court cases from several provinces in the central region. We conclude, contrary to much of the previous scholarship on land rights security in Siam, that traditional property rights in land were relatively well defined and recognized by both government and citizens. Furthermore, property ownership was not reserved for the politically powerful and, in fact, made up the minority of landholders. The primary land deed records from the 19th century show that special populations, such as ordinary Thai citizens, women, and foreigners, were entitled to own land and their rights were often upheld in court.

Dr. Jessica Vechbanyongratana is an assistant professor of economics in the Faculty of Economics at Chulalongkorn University. She earned her undergraduate degree in Asian Studies at Whitman College (Washington, USA) and completed her graduate work in economics at the University of Colorado at Boulder (USA). Her research interests are in the economic history of Thailand and contemporary labor issues in Thailand. Dr. Jessica has recently published A Brief Economic History of Land Rights in Thailand: From the Sukhothai Period to the End of King Chulalongkorn’s Reign with Dr. Thanyaporn Chankrajang, also from the Faculty of Economics, Chulalongkorn University.

Date: Thursday, 25 January 2018
Time: 7.30 p.m.
Place: The Siam Society, 131 Asoke Montri Rd, Sukhumvit 21

Non-members donation: B200. Siam Society members, members’ spouses and children, and all students showing valid student ID cards are admitted free of charge. For more information, please contact Khun Arunsri or

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The Siam Society is deeply grateful to the James H.W. Thompson Foundation for its generous support of the 2016-2017 Lecture Series.