Susan Conway

Susan Conway

Research Associate

Dr Susan Conway is a Research Associate at IDS. Areas of specialisation include material culture, the protection of endangered cultural heritage, conservation and preservation, museum education in Southeast Asia, female employment in indigenous culture projects, Theravada Buddhist material culture in Thailand and Myanmar.

IDS: Project Leader Rockefeller Shan Project, 2018-

PROJECT TITLE: The Tai Shan of Myanmar: Protecting and Conserving an Endangered Culture

Documenting and Cataloguing Material Culture in Shan State

Establishing a Digital Library of Shan Material Culture, Shan State

Teaching Anthropology and Material Culture to post-graduate students, Shan State, Myanmar

Relevant publications

BOOKS: Tai Magic: Arts of the Supernatural River Books, Bangkok, 2014

The Shan: Culture Arts and Crafts, Bangkok, 2005

ARTICLES: ‘Textiles and Supernatural Power: A Tai Belief System’ in Journal of Burma Studies, Northern Illinois University Centre for Burma Studies, Volume 22 No 2, December 2017.

Consultant, Princess Sirindhorn Museum Project, 2017-

PROJECT TITLE: Cataloguing the Princess Sirindhorn Museum Collection, Suan Prakhan Palace, Bangkok, Thailand

Documenting and cataloguing a Thai royal collection

Relevant Publications

BOOKS: Princess Sirindhorn Museum Catalogue (at press), Bangkok 2020.

Thai Textiles, British Museum Press, London, 1992.

Convenor ‘Tai Museums and Conservation Panel’ the Tai Studies Conference, Chiang Mai University, Thailand, 2013

Relevant publication

PAPER: ‘Politics of Court Dress and Regalia: Power in a Tai World’, Proceedings of Tai Studies Conference, Chiang Mai University, Thailand

SOAS: Project Leader, MacArthur Foundation Project 2009

PROJECT TITLE: Shan Research and Post Graduate Course in Shan Studies, SOAS London University

Research: Documenting Shan Culture in Shan State

Relevant publications


Shan Tribute Relations in the Nineteenth Century’ in Journal of Contemporary Buddhism, Taylor and Francis, Vol 10, Number I, May 2009.

Shan expressions of Power and Protection’ in The Secrets of Southeast Asian Textiles, James H.W. Thompson Foundation, Bangkok, 2007.

Ella Walker Fellowship, Bellagio Study Centre, Italy, 2009

Sabbatical to write up and prepare for publication of Shan research

Convenor: Shan Buddhism and Culture Conference, SOAS, London University 2007

Relevant Publications

ARTICLE ‘Shan Tribute Relations’ Shan Buddhism and Culture Conference, Proceedings Published by The Centre for Buddhist Studies, SOAS and the Shan Cultural Association UK (8th– 9th December 2007).

Convenor Shan Studies Panel, ASREASUK conference Magdalene College, Cambridge, 2011. Convenor Shan Studies panel, ASEASUK conference University of Swansea, Wales, 2009.

Consultant Denison Museum, Denison University Ohio, USA, 2007-2008

Cataloguing Shan material

CHAPTER Shan Textiles’ in Eclectic Collecting The formation of the Denison Collection of Burmese Art, Denison University, Denison Ohio, 2008.

Consultant, Shan Collections at the University Museum, Center for Burma Studies, Northern Illinois University, De Kalb Illinois.

Relevant Publications

‘The Soapha at Home and Abroad’ in Through the Thread of Time, (ed. Jane Purananda) James H.W. Thompson Foundation, Bangkok, River Books, 2004.

Senior Curator, Exhibition to launch the James H W Thompson Museum, Bangkok, 2003.

Relevant publications

CATALOGUE Power Dressing, Lanna Shan Siam: James H W Thompson Foundation, Bangkok, 2003.

ARTICLES ‘Dress, Textiles and Trade in Southeast Asia’ Textile Society of America, Smith College, 2003.

‘Power Dressing: Female Court Dress and Marital Alliances in Lan Na, the Shan States and Siam’ in Orientations Vol. 32, No. 4, April 2001

CHAPTER Lanna Male Dress in Peace and War’ in Through the Thread of Time, (ed. Jane Purananda) James H.W. Thompson Foundation, Bangkok, River Books 2004.

Research Fellow, Textile Conservation James W. Thompson Foundation, Bangkok, Thailand, 1994-1999

Consultant, Establishment of the Bank of Thailand Lan Na Museum, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Relevant publications

BOOK Silken Threads and Lacquer Thrones: Lan Na Court Textiles and Dress, River Books and Thames and Hudson, Bangkok, December 2001.

CHAPTER ‘Court Dress, Politics and Ethnicity in the Shan States’ in Burma: Art and Archaeology British Museum Press, 2002.

Project Advisor for NGO ‘Adithi’ Bihar, India 1992-1996

Indira Gandhi fellowship, 1992

Relevant publications

ARTICLES ‘Textiles, women and citizenship in rural Bihar, India’ in Quilters Review, No. 22, 1996.

‘Textiles, Communication and Empowerment: A Women’s Development Project’ in ETN Conference and Textile Celebration, Manchester Metropolitan University, 1996.

‘Bihar Quilting and Northeast Thai Weaving: A Comparative Study of Status’ in Textile History, Vol. 30 (1), 1999.

‘Textiles, Traditions and the Marketplace’ in Text Vol. 24, 1996.




Rockefeller Shan project

The Shan are a Tai people closely related to the Tai of Thailand, Laos and Yunnan and are one of the ethnic minorities in the Shan States of Myanmar. The Shan are Theravada Buddhists. There is no accurate data but it is estimated that over six million live in the Shan States with a total land...



Protecting cultural heritage: The Shan of Myanmar

Researching the history and culture of the Shan, the largest ethnic minority group in Myanmar, is possible in UK and US libraries where small well conserved, and cataloged Shan manuscripts are available. Researching in Shan State in Myanmar is more complicated. One can only travel in “safe...

9 September 2020