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“Very Thai Cultural Filters: How hybrids preserve and project a sense of Thainess” Talk

  • When: 8 March 2014 | 14.00 – 15.30
  • Where: Auditorium, TCDC

Find out from the ‘Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture’ author how everyday goods and services can be imbued with a marketable Thai character! (fully booked)

(Fully booked)

What makes something mass-produced feel ‘very Thai’? How can a plastic utensils or a mode of transport convey a distinct Thainess? Author Philip Cornwel-Smith wrote the influential bestseller ‘Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture’ partly to explain the way such ordinary things can acquire a sense of Siamese place. In connection with the exhibition Hello World, Philip will give a talk about how everyday goods and services can be imbued with a marketable Thai character.

Thai culture has for centuries been highly porous to outside influence, yet Philip shows how Thais have maintained their culture by localising imports in distinct ways. This can be done through applying traditional materials, techniques and decoration, or by keeping the import’s form whilst replacing its original philosophy with one that resonates to Thais. Instead of direct copying, inventions from elsewhere have been riffed into hybrids that involve a shift in meaning. Thais have even turned Thai-foreign hybrids into icons of Thainess to be reprojected abroad as symbols of the country.

Cultural filters that make Thai consumption of imports selective draw from instinctive cultural values. Now that Thailand faces increased global competition, the challenge is to create cultural filters that select aspects of Thainess appropriate to outside consumers. The author draws from his personal experience to show how this might require addressing some cultural habits and giving attention to underlying themes, hidden traits and the creative process itself.

This talk accompanies the exhibition “Hello World!” 

About Philip Cornwel-Smith
This month marks 20 years since Philip settled in Bangkok as founding editor of its first listings magazine, Metro. Covering culture and travel in various media, he writes guides including Time Out Bangkok, and has often been interviewed in international TV and documentaries. His iconic bestseller Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture, now updated into an expanded 2nd edition, has spawned a huge photographic exhibition at ZEN and the new website verythai.com.

13.00 – 13.45 Registration
14.00         “Very Thai Cultural Filters: How hybrids preserve and project a sense of Thainess” Talk by Philip Cornwel-Smith
15.30 Q & A 

Free Admission
Please reserve your seat in advance via Online Reservation system or at TCDC Information Counter, tel. 02 664-844802 664-8448 ext. 213, 214. (Closed Mondays) 

(Fully booked)

1. Conducted in English with Thai translation via headphone.
2. Advance reservation is required.
3. Registration desk opens 1 hour in advance, reserved attendees must confirm at least 30 minutes before the event starts.
4. Parking fee is subject to The Emporium’s terms and conditions. TCDC will provide free 2-hour parking coupon for attendees.

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