Katherine Bowie
Katherine A. Bowie

1988 Ph.D. University of Chicago (Anthropology).
 "Peasant Perspectives on the Political Economy of the Northern Thai Kingdom of Chiang Mai in the Nineteenth Century:  Implications for the Understanding of Peasant Political Expression."

1981 M.A.  University of Chicago (Anthropology).
In the Wake of the Lords: A Historical Perspective on the Role of Irrigation in the Political Economy of Northern Thailand

1972 B.A.  With Distinction.  Stanford University (Anthropology).

Professor of Anthropology
At UW-Madison since 1988

Cultural Anthropology

Affiliations: Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Religious Studies, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, and Development Studies


Katherine Bowie has conducted extensive research in Thailand for over 30 years. Combining oral histories, participant-observation and interviews with archival research, her work explores Thai peasant history, political economy, and social movements.   Her current research focuses on the politics of gender and religion in Thailand. In 2004 a national controversy erupted over a northern Thai taboo which forbad women from entering sacred spaces in Buddhist temples. Her fascination with this controversy has led her to explore the history of this "ancient" northern taboo, the legal debates over opposed clauses in the 1997 Thai Constitution which protect both equal rights for women and the right to pursue local customs, the underlying conflict over the legalization of a Theravada Buddhist lineage of nuns (bhikkuni), and the extent of regional variation in contemporary interpretations of Buddhism.

Her national service includes Fulbright Scholar to Thailand, Eisenhower Fellow to Thailand, book review editor for Political and Legal Anthropology Review (PoLAR), Past-President of the Midwest Conference on Asian Affairs (MCAA). She is an active member of the Council of Thai Studies (COTS) and is currently Director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies.


Professor Bowie teaches a range of classes from introductory courses in anthropology to graduate courses in anthropological theory. More specialized courses she teaches include Peoples and Cultures of Mainland Southeast Asia, Political Anthropology, Anthropology of the State, Anthropology of Capitalism, Historical Anthropology, Peasant Politics and more recently courses on Theravada Buddhism.

Select Publications
Curriculum Vitae

Katherine Bowie CV


Office: 5462 Sewell Social Science Bldg.
Office phone: (608) 262-2132 or 2866
Email address: kabowie@wisc.edu