Symbolism and Activism: The Politics of Heritage and Housing in Bangkok
The small but emblematic community of Pom Mahakan, situated in the core of a dynastic and historic district of old Bangkok, has for twenty years resisted attempts by the municipal authorities to evict it entirely from the site. In its struggle to remain, it has been particularly attentive to the symbolic importance of the space it occupies as well as to representations of Thai national culture and its relationship to that idealized whole. Its leaders have developed distinctive and impressive styles of rhetoric for maintaining communal unity and coherence even during the factional turmoil that has convulsed Thailand in recent years. The speaker will address the role of the anthropologist in this process and discuss the ethics and risks of ?engaged anthropology, arguing for a strong sense of commitment in support of a community that has made an equally strong case for remaining in its present location, taking responsibility for the care of the monumental and vernacular architecture on the site, and rebuilding domestic spaces in a way that is compatible with both the community's own distinctive character and the larger architectural and urban context.
Michael Herzfeld ist Professor für Anthropologie und Kurator für Europäische Ethnologie am Peabody Museum der Harvard University; derzeit hält er sich als Visiting Fellow am Center for Advanced Studies auf.
Ort: Institut für Ethnologie, Oettingenstr. 67 (am Chinesischen Turm), 80538 München, Raum 123
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