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Luk Thung: The Culture and Politics of Thailand’s Most Popular Music

Since the 1960s, the hybrid popular music called luk thung has embodied the aspirations, frustrations, and sorrows of Thailand’s working class. Global scholarship, however, has been slow in examining this seminal genre. In this pioneering book, ethnomusicologist James Mitchell explores the many facets of luk thung through ethnographic research with singers, songwriters, fans, and other professionals. The groundbreaking final chapter refutes the widespread opinion that luk thung is an apolitical genre by examining its role in recent political turmoil and tracing currents of protest and sociopolitical commentary back to the music’s origins.

The book includes links to many songs online so that readers can hear for themselves the music that came to express the triumphs and hardships of everyday working Thais.

Mitchell, James 2015 Luk thung: The culture and politics of Thailand’s most popular music, Chiang Mai: Silkworm Books


Dr. James Mitchell serves as the Professor of Ethnomusicology, Asian Music Specialist in the Department of Music & Ethnodoxology in the School of Creative Expression at Missional University. His academic credentials include a B.A. in Music and a Graduate Diploma of Education (Music), University of Sydney (AU); a Teaching Certificate, New South Wales Department of Education, Sydney (AU); a Graduate Diploma of Arts (Hons Class II Division), English Literature, University of Sydney, (AU); and a PhD in Ethnomusicology, Macquarie University, Sydney (AU). His accomplishments include:

  • Mitchell, James 2014, Thai Music Inventory:
  • Mitchell, James 2014  Youtube channel with more than 3.5 million views and 5,500 subscribers: (

Link to Book Information.     Faculty Profile

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