I am a third year PhD candidate in Creative Industries, and have been granted a Master’s and PhD scholarship from the Royal Thai Government. I finished my Master’s degree in Cultural and Creative Industries from King’s College London.
My research focuses on the Creative City discourse in Southeast Asia as the Creative City is a global policy movement, promoted by UNESCO, the British Council, and now the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The rhetoric of 'creativity', and the ascendency of cities as fulcra of economic growth globally (as constantly publicised by UN-Habitat) provokes an immediate question: Is the Creative City a suitable strategy for every city? With the Creative City as an urban trend in Asia, many cities have adopted the Creative City as a policy imperative without a careful examination of its implications, or a thorough audit of their city's own creative capabilities, assets and the present or potential role of culture in their urban economy. It is often the case, that rather than using the Creative City as a provocation to develop an urban imaginary capable of realising the city's potential, cities in Asia ignore or denigrate their current capabilities and assets, building new facilities modelled on those of the West.
This research starts from critiques on the Creative City discourse that it is a ‘cookie-cutter’ model of urban cultural policy (Oakley 2004), ‘fast urban policy’ (Peck 2005), ‘Xerox’ approach (Pratt 2009), and the Trojan horse of neoliberalism (Mould 2015). In my research, I examine the role of neoliberal economic philosophy, and the specific policies and strategic options chosen by the Southeast Asian cities, paying particular attention to how the Creative City discourse is applied very differently in different cities. The cities in focus are Chiang Mai (Thailand), George Town (Penang, Malaysia), Cebu (Philippines) and Bandung (Indonesia) as they are the initiative of the Southeast Asian Creative Cities Network (SEACCN), which was established in 2014 as a network of creative cities and clusters in Southeast Asia. It is worth noting that these cities are all secondary cities.
With all these issues, I am identifying what the Creative City discourse is, and how has it contributed to policy development for the ASEAN region. I also look at how the discourse has been adopted by ASEAN cities, and adapted to Asian urban realities. Having the argument of the Creative City discourse as the Trojan horse of neoliberalism, my research ultimate goal is to find out whether or not the discourse is a form of urban neoliberalism. I am developing this research with Dr. Jonathan Vickery.
- Presented on ‘The Creative City and Southeast Asian cities’ at the International Academic Forum on City/Global 2017 at Barcelona, Spain (13-17 July 2017)
- Presented on ‘The cultural politics of the Creative City approach and neoliberalism in Southeast Asia’ at the tenth International Convention of Asia Scholars at Chiang Mai, Thailand (20-23 July 2017)