Ethnographic Excursions

*** The registration for ethnographic excursions is now closed. All programs are fully booked.

Wat Arun Bangkok.

1. Cultural Heritage, Multiculturalism, and Urban Transformation

29 July 2004

Bangkok has long been a melting pot of cultures, with diverse communities shaping its urban landscape and heritage. This one-day ethnographic excursion delves into the complexities of cultural heritage, multiculturalism, and urban transformation in Bangkok. Participants will explore the city’s historic sites, religious landmarks, and community spaces, engaging with the challenges of preserving cultural diversity in the face of rapid urban development. The excursion offers a unique opportunity to learn from local experts, community members, and scholars, such as Prof. Michael Herzfeld, who will share insights on the eviction of the Pom Mahakan Community and the broader implications for Bangkok’s urban heritage. Through visits to diverse locations, including the Rattanakosin Exhibition Hall, Flower Market, Santa Cruz Church, Baan Kudichin Museum, Kian An Keng Shrine, and Wat Kalayanamit, participants will gain a deeper understanding of Bangkok’s multicultural fabric and the importance of inclusive urban planning in preserving and promoting cultural heritage.

 

8:30 AM – Attend a talk at Chula or at the hotel by Prof. Michael Herzfeld on the eviction of the Pom Mahakan Community and the challenges of preserving cultural heritage and communities in the face of urban development pressures in Bangkok. (https://www.khaosodenglish.com/news/bangkok/2017/03/15/harvard-anthropologist-defends-pom-mahakan-community/)

9:00 AM – Travel to Pom Mahakan Fort observe the process of urban transformation.

10:00 AM – Walk to the nearby Rattanakosin Exhibition Hall and explore the exhibits on the history and development of Bangkok’s Rattanakosin Island, focusing on the multicultural influences that have shaped the area. (http://www.nitasrattanakosin.com/home.php?lang=en)

11:30 PM – Take a tuk-tuk or taxi to the Flower Market (Pak Klong Talad) and observe the vibrant market atmosphere, the role of the flower trade in the local economy, and the diverse communities that work in and around the market. (https://theunusualtrip.com/flower-market-bangkok/)

12:00 PM – Lunch at a local restaurant near the Flower Market. Encourage participants to discuss their observations and experiences from the morning.

1:00 PM – Visit Wat Prayurawongsawas, a historic Buddhist temple on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. Discuss the role of religious heritage in the urban landscape of Bangkok and how different religious communities have coexisted and contributed to the city’s cultural diversity. (https://www.unesco.org/en/articles/harnessing-heritage)

2:00 PM – Walk to the nearby Santa Cruz Church, a historic Catholic church built by the Portuguese community in Bangkok. Discuss the role of religious heritage in the city’s multicultural fabric and how different communities have contributed to Bangkok’s urban development. (https://www.tour-bangkok-legacies.com/santa-cruz-church.html)

3:00 PM – Take a tuk-tuk or taxi to the Baan Kudichin Museum, a small museum showcasing the history and culture of the Thai-Portuguese community in Bangkok. Explore the museum and discuss the challenges of preserving and promoting minority cultural heritage in a rapidly changing urban environment. (https://baankudichinmuseum.com/)

4:00 PM – Walk to the nearby Kian An Keng Shrine, a historic Chinese shrine, and observe the cultural and religious practices of the local Chinese community. Discuss the role of Chinese heritage in Bangkok’s multicultural landscape and how it has influenced the city’s development. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kian_Un_Keng_Shrine)

5:00 PM – Regroup at a nearby cafe or gathering space to discuss the day’s findings, compare notes, and analyze the different aspects of cultural heritage, multiculturalism, and urban transformation in Bangkok, including the challenges of preservation, the impact of development on diverse communities, and the importance of inclusive urban planning.

 

Suggested reading materials related to Bangkok:

  • Herzfeld, M. (2017). The blight of beautification: Bangkok and the pursuit of class-based urban purity. Journal of Urban Design22(3), 291–307.
  • Herzfeld, M. (2003). Pom Mahakan: Humanity and order in the historic center of Bangkok. Thailand Human Rights Journal, 1, 101-119.
  • Herzfeld, M. (2016). The crypto-colonial dilemmas of Rattanakosin Island. In M. Herzfeld, Siege of the spirits: Community and polity in Bangkok (pp. 35-63). University of Chicago Press.
  • Tanabe, S. (2016). The transformations of Bangkok’s ethnic landscape. In S. Tanabe (Ed.), Communities of potential: Social assemblages in Thailand and beyond (pp. 137-167). Chiang Mai University Press.
  • Askew, M. (2002). The challenge of co-existence: The meaning of urban heritage in contemporary Bangkok. In W. S. Logan (Ed.), The disappearing ‘Asian’ city: Protecting Asia’s urban heritage in a globalizing world (pp. 229-244). Oxford University Press.

 


 

2. Urban gentrification, Humans and Nonhumans

30 July 2004

Bangkok has been experiencing significant urban gentrification in recent years, which has had profound impacts on the city’s people, ecology, and urban wildlife. This one-day ethnographic excursion delves into the complexities of urban gentrification in Bangkok, with a special focus on the Ari neighborhood. Participants will spend the morning exploring the urban ecology of Ari, guided by the Ari Ecowalk group, a local community organization dedicated to promoting sustainable development and ecological awareness. Through guided nature walks and observations of the changing built environment, participants will gain insights into the challenges and opportunities faced by the Ari community in the context of gentrification. The afternoon will be spent exploring the Charoen Krung neighborhood, where participants will witness the role of cultural and creative industries in driving gentrification and discuss the challenges of balancing historic preservation, economic development, and urban ecology.

 

8:00 AM – Meet at the Mandarin Hotel Samyan and introduce the topic of urban gentrification and its impacts on people, ecology, and urban wildlife in Bangkok.

8:30 AM – Take the MRT and then BTS from Sam Yan Station to Ari Station. Walk to the nearby Ari neighborhood, a recently developed urban green space that exemplifies the gentrification process in Bangkok.

(https://www.timeout.com/bangkok/news/why-we-think-ari-is-the-coolest-neighborhood-in-bangkok-right-now-100721)

9:00 AM – Meet with representatives from the Ari Ecowalk group, a local community organization focused on urban ecology and sustainable development in the Ari area. Attend a brief presentation about their work and the challenges and opportunities they face in the context of gentrification.

9:30 AM – Explore Ari Ecowalk with the guidance of the Ari Ecowalk group. Observe the changes in the built environment, such as the installation of green spaces, walkways, and seating areas. Discuss the potential benefits and drawbacks of these changes for the local community and urban wildlife.

10:30 AM – Participate in a guided nature walk around the Ari neighborhood led by the Ari Ecowalk group. Observe the urban flora and fauna, and learn about the group’s efforts to promote biodiversity and ecological awareness in the community.

12:00 PM – Lunch at a local restaurant or street food stall in the Ari area. Engage in discussions with group members about their experiences and perspectives on urban gentrification, community resilience, and urban ecology.

1:30 PM – Take the BTS Skytrain from Ari Station to Saphan Taksin Station. Walk to the nearby Charoen Krung neighborhood, one of the oldest areas in Bangkok currently undergoing significant gentrification.

2:00 PM – Explore the Charoen Krung neighborhood, observing the mix of old shophouses, art galleries, boutique hotels, and creative spaces. Discuss the role of cultural and creative industries in driving gentrification and the potential impacts on the local community.

(https://southeastasiaglobe.com/charoenkrung-road-bangkok/)

(https://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/2600671/will-gentrification-respect-citys-people-?fbclid=IwAR1RlryPQXnaRKaGO7rkQhb2JpEvsha13J4suh9vFbhdMAf2GSGpQSuW89g)

3:30 PM – Visit the TCDC (Thailand Creative & Design Center) in the Grand Postal Building, a repurposed historic building that showcases the adaptive reuse of urban spaces. Discuss the challenges and opportunities of balancing historic preservation, economic development, and urban ecology in the context of gentrification. (https://www.tcdc.or.th/en/home)

5:00 PM – Take the BTS Skytrain from Saphan Taksin Station, then change to the MRT and return to Sam Yan Station.

5:30 PM – Walk back to the Mandarin Hotel Samyan and conclude the excursion with a debriefing session. Reflect on the day’s observations and insights gained from the Ari Ecowalk group. Discuss the complex relationships between urban gentrification, community well-being, and urban ecology in Bangkok, and consider potential strategies for promoting equitable and sustainable urban development.

 

Suggested reading materials:

  • Moore, R., & Goodchild, B. (2022). Gentrification and Inequality in Bangkok: Housing Pathways, Consumerism and the Vulnerability of the Urban Poor. Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia37(2), 230–261.
  • Moore, R. D. (2015). Gentrification and displacement: The impacts of mass transit in Bangkok. Urban Studies, 52(14), 2610-2627.
  • Huabcharoen, N., & Ellsmore, D. E. (2017). Creative class and gentrification: The case of old Bangkok foreigner communities, Charoenkrung and Talad Noi neighbourhood. Veridian E-Journal, Silpakorn University (Humanities, Social Sciences and arts)10(5), 516-535.
  • Sangkhamanee, J., Tanmahasmut, P., and Watnakornbancha, P. (2024). “Hybrid Use of Spatial Methods in Transdisciplinary Urban Sustainability Studies: Perspectives from Bangkok” in Spatial Methods for Urban Sustainability: A Transformative Methodological Spectrum. edited by Fraya Frehse, Angela Million, and Ignacio Castillo Ulloa. Springer.

 


 

3. Bangkok’s Green Spaces

31 July 2004

In the bustling metropolis of Bangkok, where rapid urbanization has led to the disappearance of green spaces, a growing recognition of the importance of urban nature has sparked initiatives to create and preserve parks and gardens. This one-day ethnographic excursion explores the diverse green spaces of Bangkok, from traditional parks like Lumpini Park to innovative urban rewilding projects like Benjakitti Park and pocket parks nestled in the heart of the city. Participants will have the opportunity to observe how these spaces are designed, maintained, and used by local communities, as well as the challenges and opportunities they present for urban sustainability and livability. Through guided walks, discussions with locals, and direct experience, the excursion aims to deepen participants’ understanding of the social, ecological, and cultural significance of Bangkok’s green spaces and inspire critical reflection on the role of urban nature in shaping the city’s future.

 

9.00: AM – Meet at the MRT Sam Yan Station and introduce the topic of green space in Bangkok. Divide the group into smaller teams of 4-5 people.

9:30 AM – Walk to the nearby Hua Lamphong Temple Pocket Park, a small green space adjacent to the Hua Lamphong Temple alley. Observe how the pocket park complements the surrounding urban environment and serves the local community. (https://una.city/nbs/bangkok/hua-lamphong-temple-pocket-park)

10:30 AM – Take the MRT from Sam Yan Station to Silom Station. Walk to Lumpini Park, a large urban oasis in the heart of Bangkok’s business district.

11:00 AM – Explore Lumpini Park, observing how people use the space and interact with nature in the middle of the city. Conduct short interviews with park visitors to understand their perspectives on the role of green space in Bangkok. (https://una.city/nbs/bangkok/lumpini-park)

12:00 PM – Lunch at a local restaurant near Lumpini Park. Encourage participants to discuss their observations and experiences from the morning.

1:00 PM – Take the MRT from Silom Station to Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre Station. Walk to Benjakitti Park, a newer “rewilding” area built on a former tobacco factory site. Observe the park’s modern design and amenities, and how they cater to urban wildlife and other nonhuman urban actors.

2:30 PM – Take the BTS Skytrain from Asok Station to Chong Nonsi Station. Walk to Chong Nonsi Canal Park, a linear park along the Chong Nonsi Canal. Observe how the park integrates with the city’s canal and provides green space and recreational opportunities in a dense urban area. (https://www.thaipbsworld.com/chong-nonsi-canal-park-a-new-lung-for-bangkok/)

4:00 PM – Take the BTS Skytrain from Chong Nonsi Station to Siam Station, then walk to Chulalongkorn Centennial Park. Explore the park’s resilient design, green spaces, and water features. Observe how people use the space and interact with the environment. (https://worldlandscapearchitect.com/chulalongkorn-centenary-park-green-infrastructure-for-the-city-of-bangkok/?v=3a1ed7090bfa)

5:00 PM – Regroup at a park lawn to discuss the day’s findings, compare notes, and analyze the different aspects of green space in Bangkok, including accessibility, design, and community benefits.

 

Suggested reading materials:

  • Nguyen, C. T., & Chidthaisong, A. (2023). Ecosystem services provided by urban green spaces in Bangkok Metropolis: Public awareness and planning implications. Urban Ecosystems, 1-14.
  • Thaiutsa, B., Puangchit, L., Kjelgren, R., & Arunpraparut, W. (2008). Urban green space, street tree and heritage large tree assessment in Bangkok, Thailand. Urban forestry & urban greening7(3), 219-229.
  • Jensen, C. B. & Sangkhamanee, J. (2024). Rewilding Bangkok: Critical Zones and the Cosmoecology of Parks and Protests. IJURR. (forthcoming)
  • Chandrasiri, O., & Arifwidodo, S. (2017). Inequality in active public park: a case study of Benjakitti Park in Bangkok, Thailand. Procedia engineering198, 193-199.
  • Yarnvudhi, A., Leksungnoen, N., Tor-Ngern, P., Premashthira, A., Thinkampheang, S., & Hermhuk, S. (2021). Evaluation of regulating and provisioning services provided by a park designed to be resilient to climate change in Bangkok, Thailand. Sustainability13(24), 13624.

 


 

4. Urban Canal and Riparian Communities

1 August 2004

The city of Bangkok, known for its intricate network of canals, has long been shaped by the dynamic relationship between its urban landscape and the communities that call its waterways home. This one-day ethnographic excursion takes participants on a journey through the heart of Bangkok’s riparian communities, focusing on their resilience to floods, urban changes, and cultural preservation. With a chartered boat navigating the iconic Chao Phraya River and the historic Klong Bangkok Noi, the itinerary showcases the unique adaptations and cultural treasures of these water-based communities. From the flood-resilient architecture of traditional Thai houses to the spiritual significance of riverside temples, participants will gain insights into the complex interplay of nature, culture, and urban development in shaping Bangkok’s identity.

 

8:30 AM – Meet at the Mandarin Hotel Samyan and board the chartered bus to Tha Chang Pier.

9:00 AM – Arrive at Tha Chang Pier and board the chartered boat. Introduce the topic of riparian communities’ resilience to floods, urban changes, and cultural preservation in Bangkok.

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tha_Chang,_Bangkok)

9:30 AM – Begin the boat journey along the Chao Phraya River, observing the flood protection measures, adaptations, and cultural heritage along the riverbanks. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chao_Phraya_River)

10:00 AM – Enter Klong Bangkok Noi and explore the canal, known for its traditional Thai houses, temples, and communities that have adapted to living with regular flooding. Observe the elevated houses, walkways, and other adaptations to the water-based lifestyle. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khlong_Bangkok_Noi)

10:30 AM – Visit Wat Suwannaram, a historic temple with unique murals depicting Thai life along the canals. Explore the role of temples in preserving the cultural heritage and providing spiritual support to the community during times of change and crisis. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wat_Suwannaram)

11:00 AM – Continue the boat ride along Klong Bangkok Noi, stopping at Baan Silapin (Artist House), a traditional Thai house turned into an art gallery and puppet theatre. Enjoy a traditional Thai puppet show and discuss the role of art and cultural preservation in the community’s resilience.

(https://theculturetrip.com/asia/thailand/articles/what-is-the-artists-house-in-bangkok)

12:00 PM – Lunch at local restaurant

1:00 PM – Return to the Chao Phraya River and visit Wat Kalayanamit, a historic temple that has witnessed the changing landscape of the river and has itself adapted to the challenges posed by flooding and urban development. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wat_Kanlayanamit)

2:00 PM – Continue the boat journey along the Chao Phraya River, passing by other notable temples and historic sites, such as Wat Arun and the Royal Barges National Museum.

3:00 PM – Enter Klong Mon and explore the canal, observing the community’s efforts to preserve their traditional way of life while adapting to the pressures of urban development. Visit a local market or a small business that has adapted its operations to the changing environment. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khlong_Mon)

4:00 PM – Return to the Chao Phraya River and conclude the boat journey, reflecting on the day’s experiences and the lessons learned about community resilience, adaptation, and cultural preservation.

5:00 PM – Disembark at Tha Chang Pier and board the chartered bus back to the Mandarin Hotel Samyan.

 

Suggested reading materials:

  • Ahamed-Broadhurst, K. E. (2018). Understanding Canals in Bangkok Using Historic Maps and GIS(Doctoral dissertation).
  • Thaitakoo, D., McGrath, B., Srithanyarat, S., & Palopakon, Y. (2013). Bangkok: the ecology and design of an aqua-city. Resilience in Ecology and Urban Design: Linking Theory and Practice for Sustainable Cities, 427-442.
  • Aruninta, A., Matsushima, H., & Phukumchai, P. (2020). Flow or Fence: Learning, Preserving, and Redefining the Riverfront Cultural Landscape. Journal of Water Resource and Protection, 12, 921-933.
  • Unakul, M. H. (2012). Reconnecting Bangkok’s heritage landscape: Urban waterways and the modern city. The Journal of the Siam Society100, 183-208.
  • Storey, D. (2012). Incompatible partners? Urban poor communities and river systems in Bangkok, Thailand. International Development Planning Review34(2).

 


5. Ethnographic Self-Explorations

2 August 2004

Information for self-walk itinerary will be released soon.