Creating Transnational Spaces in Thai Town | KCET
Creating Transnational Spaces in Thai Town
Forces of globalization have given way to the increased mobility of people, technology, and culture across the world. These include ethnic identities that have become transnational through cultural assets, practices, and symbols that create new forms of interconnectedness beyond nation-state borders.
Situated in the East Hollywood area of Los Angeles, Thai Town is an example of a transnational space as the geographic place that serves as home to Thai immigrants, restaurants, and community organizations. One such community organization, the Thai Community Development Center, has led much of the work to not only support multi-ethnic residents (Latino, Armenian, Filipino, and Thai) and small businesses in the area, but also to actively build up the community assets of the area through the erection of cultural amenities that further create a sense of place in Thai Town.
Examples include the Thai angels that greet visitors on the eastern and western gateways of Thai Town on Hollywood Boulevard. The angels are molded in the image of the Aponsis -- the half-woman half-lion creatures from Thai mythology that stand guard in front of many buildings in Thailand. As an extension of mythological Thai creatures, this year's Songkran (Thai New Year) Festival on April 7 on Hollywood Boulevard will include the 1:30pm unveiling of the half-man, half-bird Kinarra monument on the corner of Hollywood and Hobart Boulevards.
In the shadow of the more publicized Hollywood Walk of Fame, Thai streetscape plans just East of the tourist walkway, and activities such as the erection of the Kinarra, add to the contemporary picture that reflects the multicultural neighborhoods of Hollywood.
Thai CDC community planner Tyler Forester sees such cultural amenities as a way to promote positive economic development in the area. "For a Thai immigrant, when they see the statues, they can feel a part of home when they see it. And for other L.A. residents, they feel the diversity of the city."
The erection of the Kinarra is not only symbolically transnational, but very much a testament to the social collaboration and economic activities that took place across the globe to bring the statues to its home in Thai Town. Made in Bangkok by the company Siam Taksin, the flight of the Kinarra to the United States was gifted by the Royal Thai Embassy Office of the Naval Accache, headed by Lieutenant Commander Thaweesin Kongprasert. The local facilitation spearheaded by Thai CDC was assisted by the Royal Thai Consulate General of Los Angeles, headed by Consul General Jesda Katavetin.
This transnational work clearly indicates how Los Angeles and Bangkok operate as interconnected spaces, and further links the moniker that both cities hold in the global imaginary -- that of the "City of Angels." Before the unveiling of the Kinarra at the Songkran festival, the festival will also have the "City of Angels" photo exhibition, opening April 6 at Hollywood Boulevard and Western Avenue, that explores the ties between the two cities. Through these explorations and engagements of two urban spaces, Los Angeles can further delve into its transnational existence.
Top: The pair of Kinarra monuments that will be erected on Hollywood Boulevard and Hobart Boulevard in Thai Town. Photo by Curtis McElhinney.
When most people think about food access, they associate it with the presence or lack of full-service grocery stores. However, it only tells us part of the important story of what food access means in the United States. Here are 5 things you should know.
Día de los Muertos prints have been a staple in Self Help Graphics & Art's celebration of the sacred tradition for decades. Enter to win one of these precious prints.
In less than three years SÜPRMARKT, a small company dedicated to bringing fresh, organic produce into food deserts in South L.A. has grown immensely.
In the more than 30 years since Earl's first launched as a hot dog cart, it has become a neighborhood institution that has fed multiple generations of locals — vegans and non-vegans alike.
- 1 of 165
- next ›