Transnational Intimacies and Marriages: Gender and Social Class Complexities in two Northeastern Thai Villages




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. 

Author Biography

Patacharin Lapanun, Khon Kaen University

Patcharin Lapanun holds a PhD in Anthropology from Vrije University Amsterdam, and is with the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Khon Kaen University, Thailand. She is the author of the book Love, Money and Obligation: Transnational Marriage in a Northeastern Thai Village (2019), National University of Singapore Press, which was selected as one of the five best books in the social sciences by the ICAS Book Prize 2019. Her research interests include gender, transnationalism and migration, transnational marriage and intimacy, global care regime, intersectionality, multiculturalism and development studies.


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