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Book Discussion “The Social Life of Teak”

2 December, 2023 @ 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm

The authors of the recently published book ‘The Social Life of Teak,’ Tim Webster and Virginia Henderson, will discuss the book and participate in a Q&A session at SEA Junction on 2 December 2023 from 5:00 to 6:30 pm as part of the presentations in Thailand.

Tracing human interactions with the world’s most famous tropical timber species, The Social Life of Teak (River Books, Bangkok & London) maps worlds revolving around teak forests, trees and wood. What gives Tectona grandis such a powerful aura, stoking desires and capturing imaginations? How has teak shaped people’s lives, driving fortunes and impacting futures? What has happened to the teak forests and what is their destiny?

Exploring teak’s significance highlights processes of consumption and commodification, inviting questions about our relationships with nature and the politics of value. In this illustrated anthology of oral histories, people connected personally or professionally to teak speak of survival, change and learning, creativity and destruction, growth and demise. Woven together, these experiences bring to light the ways that teak has been sought, crafted, cultivated, traded and prized over time.

Animist beliefs, creative expression, scientific invention, economic viability, imperialist expansion, peak luxury, violent repression, ecological disaster and the regenerative power of nature all find a home in this global intergenerational tale.

Charting the domestication of wilderness and exposing the era of extinction of a feted natural resource, this book seeks to stimulate conversations about our role as nature’s most troublesome offspring.

Authors’ Profiles

Tim Webster is a documentary photographer and writer focusing on culture, environment and heritage issues. He has a degree in physics and mathematics, and a diploma in teaching. Previous publications include Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market Book (Thames & Hudson, 2017) and Yangon Echoes: Inside Heritage Homes with co-author Virginia Henderson (River Books, 2015)                   

Virginia Henderson is an independent researcher, facilitator and producer. An oral historian, she has an MA in Thai Studies and a doctorate in heritage management. She is interested in cultural expression, the power of storytelling, the production of art and social space.

For more information, please email: info@seajunction.org or phone/wa: +66970024140

NB: The event is free, but donations are welcome to support this and other SEA Junction activities.


SEA Junction, established under the Thai non-profit organization Foundation for Southeast Asia Studies (ForSEA), aims to foster understanding and appreciation of Southeast Asia in all its socio-cultural dimensions, from arts and lifestyles to economy and development. Conveniently located at Room 408 of the Bangkok Arts and Culture Center or BACC (across MBK, BTS National Stadium), SEA Junction facilitates public access to knowledge resources and exchanges among students, practitioners and Southeast Asia lovers. For more information, see www.seajunction.org, join the Facebook group:  http://www.facebook.com/groups/1693058870976440/ and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @seajunction


2 December, 2023
5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Event Category:


SEA Junction