Current Institutional Affiliation
Lecturer, School of Culture, History & Language, Australian National University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2005
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, Cornell University
The National Politics of Local Digital Media in Mae Hong Son, Thailand

In the midst of the Thai government crackdown on media piracy, independent digital media thrives in the periphery, where CDs and VCDs are produced in historically underrepresented languages at an unprecedented scale. Though the Bangkok-centric Thai state once had a near-exclusive monopoly on mass media production, the electronic and digital media are increasingly able to provide a platform for local production of translations or even alternatives to Bangkok-Thai artifacts. Mae Hong Son, in a mountainous cradle between Northern Thailand, Burma, and Yunnan is a hotbed for these new forms of media, as it was never fully integrated with the Bangkok-centered Thai state, and has experienced an influx of migrants from across its border with Burma. Incorporating music and the guitar jam into ethnographic method, this research examines the ways in which popular culture texts are reinterpreted, or "poached" in the local milieu. What is the role that state, local, and capitalist ideologies play in shaping consumer desires in this site, and how do people interpret, understand, and re-shape them at the local level? Who ultimately benefits from the realities sanctioned by interpretations of various competing ideologies of popular media?