Transnational Intimacies and Marriages: Gender and Social Class Complexities in two Northeastern Thai Villages
Keywords:Gender, Social Class, Thailand, Transnational Intimacy, Transnational Marriage
Studies of transnational intimacies and marriages thus far reveal how these intimate relationships are simulated and constrained by global and local circumstances, cultures, ideas, and practices relating to gender, marriage, and family as well as class and ethnicity. This paper provides insights into the other side of the global process by exploring how these intimate relations generate tensions and challenge cultural ideas and practices regarding gender and social class at the ‘local end’ of the transnational connections. Drawn on three ethnographic studies in two northeastern Thai villages, my research argues that these marital relationships present a form of women’s agency and bring new challenges to masculine identities and subjectivities, placing local men in vulnerable positions. Women with Western partners also constitute a new class determined by both their consumption and their lifestyle – which set them apart from other villagers – and their increased ownership of both farm and residential land. Thus, these women form a new class in both Bourdieusian and Marxist senses, although land in this case has less to do with production but rather wellbeing, security, and prosperity. In this light, transnational marriages/intimacies induce the reconfiguring of gender and class in women’s natal villages.
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