Susan Conway is currently a Research Associate at the School of Oriental and African
Studies. She was previously teaching at The New School, New York.
Her books and papers cover the culture, arts and crafts of South-east Asia, specialising in Thailand and the Shan States of Burma (Myanmar).She has conducted field work for thirty years, organising conferences and exhibitions in South-east Asia, Europe and the USA.Her current research is on Tai Supernaturalism, the material culture of Magic. Her new book on the subject will be published in 2013.Susan Conway is also an artist whose work is based on South-east Asian landscapes and Buddhist mural paintings.
Full CV for Dr. Susan Conway BA, MA PhD, FRGS:
Susan Conway has worked in inland South-east Asia since she graduated with a fine arts degree in 1983. She was involved in the first major team project to record and photograph the temple mural paintings of Lan Na (North Thailand) and Isan (North-east Thailand), funded by the Ford Foundation. This involved travelling to Buddhist monasteries in the remote villages of the region at a time when there were no official records of the number of temples, or appreciation of their original artistic and architectural style. The project included an opportunity for the team to hold an exhibition of their photographs in Bangkok, aiming to raise awareness of the need for conservation and restoration.During the fieldwork for this project, she lived in many villages and when time allowed, added a photographic record of local arts and crafts. This included women engaged in sericulture, raising cotton, dyeing thread with vegetable and aniline dyes, and weaving cloth. Some of those photographs, and the textiles associated with the fieldwork, are now in the permanent collection of the Horniman Museum, London.On her return to the UK she put this particular aspect of the work together with a loan of historic textiles and dress to curate the first Thai exhibition of its kind to be held in the United Kingdom. It was aimed specifically at artists and designers, and museum curators and toured art institutions. The catalogue “Thailand : Weaving and the Rice Cycle” (1990) explained the annual cycle of Theravada Buddhist festivals, agricultural production and the creation of textiles for religious and household use.This led to a book “Thai Textiles” published by British Museum Press in 1992, brought together an historical account of dress and textiles, using temple mural painting photographs as illustrations, and enlarging on her earlier work, with emphasis on the cultural significance of textiles as an expression of the creativity of women.Since then she has published books on the culture, arts and crafts of North Thailand (“Silken Threads, Lacquer Thrones", 2003) and the Shan States of Burma (“The Shan: Culture Arts and Crafts”, 2006).She has also contributed to many books, including “Burma: Art and Archaeology”, British Museum Press, 2002, “Through the Thread of Time, James H.W. Thompson Foundation, 2004 and “Myth, Status and the Supernatural”, James H.W. Thompson Foundation and River Books, 2007.She was curator of the highly acclaimed exhibition “Power Dressing” that launched the opening of the James H.W. Thompson Museum in Bangkok in 2003, built adjacent to the famous Jim Thompson House Museum.Dr Susan Conway is a Research Associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. From 2000-2004 she was Adjunct Professor of South east Asian Studies at Parsons, New School University, New York.
The book "The Shan" by Susan Conway was formally presented by Dr Mark Brown, programme Director of DevelopEd to the Shan Literature and Culture Association, Lashio (Northern Shan State). The organisation DevelopEd has donated boxes of books to local schools and education groups in the Lashio area.
‘The Shan’ book being presented.
Shan Literature and Culture Organisation.
Latest book: Tai Magic, Arts of the Supernatural in the Shan states and Lan Na.
This new publication offers an insight into the arts of magic in the Shan States of Burma (Myanmar) and Lan Na (north Thailand). Inspired by manuscripts and textiles in museum collections, this book explores the meaning and use of spells, incantations, mystical diagrams and illustrations. Available from September 2014.Reviewed by Chris Baker for the Bangkok post on 17th November 2014.Click here to read the review.
Her Royal Highness Princess Maha ChakriSirindhorn with Susan Conway following lunchat her palace in Bangkok.