Area Studies, by definition, conjure ideas of emplaced knowledge; in-depth interdisciplinary understanding of language, history, culture and politics of a nation or region. Where detractors might see this approach as overly empirical, therefore precluding theoretical sophistication, others argue that "places" are either artificially constructed, or that processes of globalisation have obliterated the cultural zone. But what if we turn an ethnographic eye to those very processes and technologies themselves? Can Area Studies take to the air, and if so, what are the attendant challenges and benefits? Based on ethnography amongst airline customer service workers, ground and cabin crews in Thailand and Myanmar, this research examines the airline cabin as a field for ethnographic study, and as an emplaced site for political and cultural processes. With participant observation-based knowledge of Southeast Asian cabin crews, this paper examines the 1990 hijack of Thai Airways TG 305 from an emplaced cultural perspective.
|SUVANNABHUMI: Multi-disciplinary Journal of Southeast Asian Studies.
|Published - 2020