Manusya, Journal of Humanities


Michael Hayes

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This short paper discourse teaching western Culture Studies, in particular Australian Cultural Studies, in Thailand. By contextualizing pedagogical issues, such as classroom practices and course contents, with the surrounding economic, institutional, and national educational agendas, this paper outlines some of the tensions between western and Asian tertiary education systems. Specifically, examining the development and place of cultural studies in the western university highlights the inability for cultural studies to articulate its specific view of culture. This paper discusses some aspects of teaching western Cultural Studies, in particular Australian Cultural Studies, in Thailand, and illustrates the issues raised with examples from my own teaching. Fundamentally, this paper is intended to address the purpose, the desired outcomes, and the ethical and/or economic results of western Cultural Studies in Thailand. To get ahead of myself a little here, I want to polemically suggest that Thailand does not need Cultural Studies as it is taught in the west, but rather can produce its own Cultural Studies - however, one with multiple relations to western Cultural studies, one linked to the genealogy of British, US, and Australian Cultural Studies, and one that is grounded in Thai critical analysis, university practice, and cultural understandings. While this is an obvious response-after all Thai students, academics, and universities are different from western universities, these kinds of cultural specificities are rarely addressed in accounts of the curriculum development, or the theoretical engagement of non-western Cultural Studies. This short paper attempts to read across features of Cultural Study curriculums, classroom practices, contemporary theories, and institutional powers to suggest some relationships that Cultural Studies can have with Thai university education. As such, it is a mix of theory, anecdote, practice, complaint and praise; also it is aimed more at the western academic grounded in teaching Cultural Studies in the west, for Thai academics know better than me the problems and solutions of integrating and contrasting western and Thai systems.

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