The International Conference on Lao Studies (ICLS) is held once every three years (starting after 2007), rotating among various academic institutions around the world. In 2005, Northern Illinois University became the first host of the First Lao Studies conference, followed by Arizona State University in 2007, Khon Kaen Univeristy, Thailand in 2010, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2013. The 5th ICLS was held at Thammasat University, Bangkok, Thailand in 2016 while the 6th ICLS was held at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York in 2019. The 7th ICLS will be held virtually hosted by Deakin University in Melbourne Australia in 2022. The Center for Lao Studies is proud to play an active role in organizing this important conference.
The main purpose of the Lao Studies conferences is to provide an international forum for scholars to present and discuss various aspects of ethno-linguistic groups of Laos, the Lao Isan, cross-border ethnic groups in Laos’ neighboring countries, and overseas Lao.
The Lao PDR today has a population of more than six million people, comprising an amazing complex of ethnolinguistic groups. Moreover, the number of ethnic Lao people outside of the Lao PDR, including the Lao "diaspora" numbers as many as twenty-five million. In recent years there has been an increased interest in Laos and its peoples as subjects of serious discussion by scholars and the interested public alike. Indeed, there has been a flowering of scholarly publications on topics pertaining to Laos in the last several decades and a growing interest cultivated by the international media with its global reach. The First International Conference on Lao Studies at the Northern Illinois University heralded the burgeoning of a growing interest in Lao studies among a new generation of scholars. The subsequent conferences will build on that momentum.
The Lao Studies conferences feature papers on any topic concerning Lao Studies. Topics include all ethnolinguistic groups of Laos (e.g. Lao-Tai groups, Mon-Khmer groups, Hmong-Mein groups, etc.), the Isan Lao (Northeasterners of Thailand) and other ethnic Lao groups in Thailand (e.g. Lao Song, Phuan, Phu Tai), cross-border ethnic groups in Thailand, Vietnam, China, Burma, and Cambodia (e.g., Akha, Hmong, Khmu, Mien, Lao Phuan, Tai Lue, Tai Dam, Tai Deang, Shan), and overseas Lao (e.g. Lao-American, Hmong-American, Lao-French).
The languages to be used in the conference will be Lao, English, and French, with translators provided when available and deemed necessary.
If your institution would like to become a host of the next International Conference for Lao Studies, please let us know. You need to answer a few questions and agree with the ICLS Guidelines. For consideration, a proposal must be submitted to the conference Business Meeting Board (BMB), which usually takes place on the second day of the conference. Please contact the Center for Lao Studies for more information.