Arnika Fuhrmann



Arnika Fuhrmann is an interdisciplinary scholar of Southeast Asia, working at the intersections of the region’s aesthetic and political modernities. Her work seeks to model an approach to the study of Southeast Asia that is informed by affect, gender, urban studies, 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. 

Fuhrmann’s work strives to understand the logics and theoretical implications of modes of belonging in Asia that are simultaneously constituted by religious and secular notions. Within this context, she investigates the ways in which affect and aesthetic form shape contemporary political cultures. Her book Ghostly Desires: Queer Sexuality and Vernacular Buddhism in Contemporary Thai Cinema (Duke University Press, 2016) examines how Buddhist-coded anachronisms of haunting figure struggles over sexuality, personhood, and notions of collectivity in contemporary Thai cinema and political rhetoric. The book thereby highlights a Southeast Asian, Buddhist perspective on queerness, femininity, and negativity.
Fuhrmann’s second book, Teardrops of TimeBuddhist Aesthetics in the Poetry of Angkarn Kallayanapong (SUNY Press, 2020), extends her interests in the work that Buddhism performs outside of the sphere of religious instruction. It follows the question of how 20th century Thai poetry uses Buddhist frameworks to create scale for cultural critique, to inform modern ethical paradigms, and to invent a poetic lexicon and poetology that not only adequately reflect the struggles of a globalizing country and region, but also intersect with the concerns of poets worldwide, such as Paul Celan and Alan Ginsberg. 
Fuhrmann’s current book project, In the Mood for Texture, investigates Bangkok as a Chinese city and focuses on the revival of the aesthetics of Chinese pasts and colonial modernity across cinema and hospitality venues. Her next project, Digital Futures: South/east Asian Media Temporalities and the Expansion of the Sphere of Politics, focuses on new media and how the study of the digital allows for a perspective on the political public sphere that transcends commonplace distinctions between liberalism and illiberalism. 

Fuhrmann is an associate editor of the journal positions: asia critique and part of the editorial team of the website positions politics. Her recent articles have appeared in Camera ObscuraDiogenesDiscourse, Oriens Extremus, and positions: asia critique
Educated in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and North America, Fuhrmann strives to bring transnational and transregional perspectives into her research and teaching. At Cornell University and beyond, she is excited to work with exceptional graduate and undergraduate students from a range of disciplinary backgrounds. Complementing her academic work, she also engages in cultural programming and works in the curatorial team of the Asian Film Festival Berlin.


Selected Publications

Teardrops of Time: Buddhist Aesthetics in the Poetry of Angkarn Kallayanapong, State University of New York Press, 2020. Read an excerpt.

Ghostly Desires: Queer Sexuality and Vernacular Buddhism in Contemporary Thai Cinema, Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2016. Read the introduction.

“Ab-normal Beauty: Horror, Homoeroticism, and Agency in Southeast and East Asian Films of Possession,” special issue on “Emotions and Ethical Life: Asian Perspectives,” Diogenes, Suwanna Satha-anand and Wasana Wongsurawat, eds. (2021, English; forthcoming in Chinese).

The Story of Permanent Displacement: Buddhist-Muslim Intimacies and Visions of Ethnic Coexistence in a Thai Queer-Feminist Filmic Archive,” Camera Obscura: Feminism, Culture, and Media Studies, 101, 34.2 (September 2019): 162–193.

Ab-normal Beauty: Terreur, homoéroticisme et agency dans les films d’horreur d’Asie de l’est et sud-est,” special issue, “Emotions and Ethical Life: Asian Perspectives,” Diogène, Guest Editors: Suwanna Satha-anand and Wasana Wongsurawat (2016): 184–203.

“Making Contact: Contingency, Fantasy, and the Performance of Impossible Intimacies in the Video Art of Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook,” positions: asia critique, 21.4, (Fall 2013): 769–799.

“Nang Nak--Ghost Wife: Desire, Embodiment, and Buddhist Melancholia in a Contemporary Thai Ghost Film,” Discourse: Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture, “Translation and Embodiment in National and Transnational Asian Film Media,” Guest Editor: Bliss Cua Lim, 31.3 (Fall 2009): 220–247.

“The Dream of a Contemporary Ayuthaya: Angkhan Kalayanaphong’s Poetics of Dissent, Aesthetic Nationalism, and Thai Literary Modernity,” Oriens Extremus 48 (2009): 271–290.

Editor with Chutima Prakatwutisarn, “Haunting and Globalization,” Aksornsat: Journal of Letters, bilingual special issue, 45.1, January–June 2013. (288 pages)

“Syndromes and a Century: Contemporary Queer Thai Cinema,” in The Oxford Handbook of Queer Cinema, eds. Ronald Gregg and Amy Villarejo (forthcoming).

“This Area is [NOT] Under Quarantine: Rethinking Southeast Asia Through Studies of the Cinema,” ed. Cheng Jia Yun, Cheong Kah Kit, Guo-Liang Tan, and Selene Yap. State of Motion 2020: Rushes of Time, Asian Film Archive, Singapore, 2020: 172–180.

“This Area is [NOT] Under Quarantine: Rethinking Southeast / Asia Through Studies of the Cinema,” in Area Studies at the Crossroads. Knowledge Production after the Mobility Turn, Anna-Katharina Hornidge and Katja Mielke, eds., New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017: 251–268.

Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook “The Class II,” “The Class III” (“Bot Rien Thi Song”; “Bot Rien Thi Sam”) Art and Words (Sinlapa Kap Thoi Khwam), Bangkok: Matichon, 2006: 45–51.

Appendix, Teardrops of Time: Buddhist Aesthetics in the Poetry of Angkarn Kallayanapong, State University of New York Press, 2020 (approximately 15,000 words of translation of poetry and poetic prose).

In the news