At IIAS, Trude will conduct archival research on the historical development of commercial and infrastructural spaces in Thailand and Southeast Asia more broadly.
Her first book manuscript, which she will continue to develop at IIAS, is tentatively titled Eat, Pray, Shop: Spiritual Practice and the Shaping of Global Commercial Space in Bangkok. This ethnography examines the role of official and unofficial spiritual practice in shaping Bangkok’s commercial landscape. Cases like the 2016 restrictions on street vending, the rebranding of Bangkok’s luxury malls, and the emergence of the city’s first creative district demonstrate how spiritual space is used to legitimize as well as resist commercial development.
Her next project, Peripheries Mobilized, examines the impact of the Chinese-sponsored Pan Asia Railway on conceptions of periphery and frontier in cities along its central route. As key nodes along this new infrastructural network, previously “peripheral” urban outposts like Khon Kaen and Luang Namtha are now central foci for the Thai and Lao governments. Investments made in these remote cities by their respective national governments are not only in tourism and trade but also in the creative industries and other intellectual infrastructures. At IIAS, she will begin archival research on “Peripheries Mobilized,” exploring the relationship between contemporary and historical infrastructural investment in this border region and how it has influenced the flow of labour into and out of urban centres.
Trude Renwick is a scholar of architecture and urbanism in Thailand and Southeast Asia whose research examines the intersections of commercial, spiritual and infrastructural space. She is currently a Fellow in the Society of Fellows for the Humanities at the University of Hong Kong and received her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in Architecture History, Theory and Society with a certificate in Global Urban Humanities in 2021.