Barend J Terwiel first visited Thailand in 1962. During the early 1970s he spent one rainy season in a monastery as a Buddhist monk. For more than 20 years he taught Thai history at the Australian National University and during that period wrote more than a dozen books and about a hundred articles on the history and culture of the Tai peoples and Thailand.
Since 1992 he has occupied the chair of Thai and Lao Languages and Literatures at Hamburg University. Between 1999 and 2004 he also held the Extraordinary Chair for Mainland Southeast Asia at Leiden University. His latest book is Thailand's Political History.
Some of his earlier writings are concerned with Thai maps and his talk at the James H W Thompson Center for Arts will illuminate how ancient maps can tell us much about contemporary Thai history.