Fantasized Romanticity: Rethinking the Role of Curtained Motels in Thai Contemporary Culture

Abstract

Examining through the lens of social-sexual production, this paper focuses on the curtained motel, known to Thais as rong raem man rud, in Thai contemporary culture, which has long been determined by Thai sex-gender discourse or so-called “hetero-normality”. In general, these are enjoyable places for anonymous sexual activities or having sex without any strings attached. For many, they are condemned and tainted, while for some they are partially legitimate and culturally tolerated. This paradoxical meaning of the curtained motel is our point of focus. It is important for us to explore curtained motels before they close down due to rapidly changing mobile culture, which allows people to meet virtually and initiate sexual interaction elsewhere, not limited to hotel facilities. This paper aims to analyze the curtained motel in terms of social-sexual production of space, through the question of what and under which conditions curtained motels have arisen, and to argue for an alternative value and meaning to that given and/or imposed by mainstream sex-gender discourse. Methodologically, this paper embraces Michel Foucault's “Other Space” as the theoretical framework for collecting and analyzing data from a field survey based on 6 curtained motels, built between 1977-1991, in Chiang Mai Municipality. This paper also aims to use the curtained motel as a point of reflection, opening up for discussion dominant cultural values, leading then, perhaps, to an alternative meaning in Thai contemporary culture.



Author Information
Sant Suwatcharapinun, Chiang Mai University, Thailand
Jakkrit Mancha, Chiang Mai University, Thailand

Paper Information
Conference: ACCS2022
Stream: Architecture and Urban Studies/Design

This paper is part of the ACCS2022 Conference Proceedings (View)
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