• In the Mood for Texture: The Revival of Bangkok as a Chinese City
    Arnika Fuhrmann
    Duke University Press, 2025
    Arnika Fuhrmann

Arnika Fuhrmann, "Sou Heng Tai Mansion, Bangkok," 2020. Digital photo. Courtesy the author

This book analyzes the reconceptualization of “Asia” from the location of Southeast Asia, specifically Bangkok. Urban design projects and media speak of a different desire for Asia than that outlined in current policy. The book explores the revival of the aesthetics of Chinese pasts and colonial modernity across the material sites of the hospitality industries of Bangkok in correlation with contemporary new media, cinemas, and literature. The analysis focuses especially on the role of the urban colonial ruin and the ways in which it is recoded and reinhabited for purposes of historical recovery and cultural critique of the present. It investigates how a historical transnational formation—that of the aesthetics of a colonial modernity inhabited by Chinese persons—continues to inform the present. What does it mean to imagine Asia beyond the reductive visions of “China Rising,” the People’s Republic’s Belt and Road Initiative, or authoritarian national policies?

Arnika Fuhrmann is an interdisciplinary scholar of Southeast Asia, working at the intersections of the region’s aesthetic, religious, and political modernities. Her work models an approach that is informed by affect, gender, urban, and media theory and anchored in thorough cultural, linguistic, and historical knowledge of the region. It stresses a translocal focus that manifests in both geographically and theoretically comparative frameworks. At Cornell University, she teaches courses that approach urbanism from a cultural studies perspective. She participated in the Mellon Collaborative Studies in Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities with a (traveling) graduate course, “Flux Navigations: Biopolitics and Urban Aesthetics in the Contemporary Southeast Asian City,” and a professionally mounted exhibition. Her third book investigates the transformation of cities in contemporary Southeast and East Asia and analyzes the revival of the aesthetics of Chinese pasts and colonial modernity across cinema and hospitality venues.