Hypermarkets and Thailand

If you happen to be in Canberra on the 19th of January, then you may be interested in this.

Thai fresh markets to Tai hypermarkets: new class based consumption in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Increasing attention is being given in academic and policy research to the rise of TNCs supermarkets in the Global South but few cultural analyses or ethnographic investigations of this 'supermarket revolution' are yet available (Coe and Wrigley 2007). This research uses ethnographic study in Chiang Mai, Thailand to reveal how European supermarkets are integrated into national and local level modernities, histories and narratives, and used by local subjects to define class differences and create middle class identities around notions of cleanliness, leisure and development. In particular, this paper examines how Chiang Mai hypermarkets transfer agency away from the consumer as they present themselves as new spiritual and cuisine authorities, rendering fresh markets as nostalgic motifs of obsolete Thai tradition. The research also explores the possibility of local circumvention and resistance of global markets by considering Chiang Mai consumers' parallel participation in the relational economies of local fresh markets.

Australian National University Human Geography Seminar
Monday, 19 January 2009, 3.30pm - 5.00pm, Seminar Room C, Coombs Building

Bronwyn Isaacs
Geography Honours Student (University of Sydney)
ANU Summer Research Scholar

Question? Are Thai hypermarts "red" or "yellow". Personally I prefer to shop at Wealthy Mart in Siem Reap in Cambodia to affirm my class status.



Sometimes I feel like the parallels between class and food is overstated and somewhat boring, especially in places like Thailand where even the "middle class" love to eat at shabby noodle shacks. Indeed, the princess of Thailand is rumoured to eat at a number of famed street noodle stands. And if supermarkets are all about development and supply chain domination then perhaps its only a matter of time before every poor man/ woman and their dog is sourcing their cheap eats from sterile isles?


    Saw her name/topic in the Agri-Food XV program earlier. I wonder if she speaks Thai to do her ethnography of consumers or chat with English speaking high-so folks in the comforts of cafes in the city of Chiang Mai.


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