Daily Configurations and Reconfigurations of Space in a Bangkok Soi: The Case of Inthamara

I recently attended the 5th World International Studies Conference at the National Taiwan University on April 1st-3rd. My paper was:

Daily Configurations and Reconfigurations of Space in a Bangkok Soi: The Case of Inthamara

Abstract

The rhythm of daily life in Inthamara, a soi linking the major thoroughfares of Viphawadi-Rangsit and Phaholyothin, begins with the perambulations of monks, who generate good karma (making space temporarily sacred) which is then distributed. The space returns to being social, public space which may then become commercial or private space as shophouse residents and passers-by enact their activities on the pavements. The use of space may be reconfigured many times during the day, depending on seasonal and temporal factors which may to some extent be predicted. The nature of the space at any particular time affects social relations among the residents of Inthamara, whether they are long-term or short-term in nature. It also affects their interactions with the representatives of the state: the street-sweepers increase the amount of space available for different types of use, while police and military challenge those who are using public space for their own purposes. The military coup of 2014 has been followed by attempts at gentrification by state agencies on a unilateral basis and this has acted as an additional, external force for change along Inthamara, joining the arrival of retail chains competing with old-fashioned, family-based local retailers and the construction of condominium projects to have residents attracted by the proximity to the new public transport networks. Using an ethnographic approach to research along Inthamara, this paper explores the nature of change along a Bangkok soi as the residential neighbourhood gradually accommodates the internal and external pressures that globalization and urbanization have caused. Distinctive local characteristics have been eroded but still exist.

Keywords: Bangkok, change, everyday living, space, urban living

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