“Culture you can go and buy.” That was the phrase that stuck with me from our guest speaker’s lecture on Thai culture. She spoke of the mass produced Bhudda figurines, the sexualized “traditional” dances, khantoke dinners eaten on the floor.
And Thai students are forgetting. They are watching American movies, and eating KFC, and listening to Jo Jo on the radio. Our speaker was not bitter. She wasn’t condemning our commercialism, our corporations that line the sidewalks, speckling Chiang Mai with Starbucks, McDonalds, Pizza Hut. No, she was sad. Sad that the art museums are empty. Sad that it’s the tourists that visit the Bhuddist temples. Sad that the traditional crafts are only as valued as the American dollars that are now funding them.Culture you can go and buy. And we do