Chinese Diaspora in Thailand

Martial Acts: Gender, Sexuality, and Identity Among the Chinese Thai Diaspora
Jiemin Bao

Jarred by not being considered Chinese by some people of Chinese ancestry living in Thailand, despite her mainland China roots, Bao (Anthropology, U. of Nevada, Las Vegas) studies what it means to be Chinese outside of China. She examines diasporic space, gendered language, changes in sex relations, and hybrid identity.

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Identity and Ethnic Relations in Southeast Asia: Racializing Chineseness
Chee Kiong-Tong

Modern nation states do not constitute closed entities. This is true especially in Southeast Asia, where Chinese migrants have continued to make their new homes over a long period of time, resulting in many different ethnic groups co-existing in new nation states. Focusing on the consequences of migration, and cultural contact between the various ethnic groups, this book describes and analyses the nature of ethnic identity and state of ethnic relations, both historically and in the present day, in multi-ethnic, pluralistic nation states in Southeast Asia. Drawing on extensive primary fieldwork in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Burma, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines, the book examines the mediations, and transformation of ethnic identity and the social incorporation, tensions and conflicts and the construction of new social worlds resulting from cultural contact among different ethnic groups. Moving between multiple sites, scales, and forms of collectivity, Becoming Landowners reveals entanglements as spaces of deep ambivalence, where structures of power are destabilized in ways that can lend themselves to the diminishing of local autonomy, but which also create new possibilities for reasserting that autonomy.

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Reproducing Chinese Culture in Diaspora: Sustainable Agriculture and Petrified Culture in Northern Thailand
Shu-min Huang

Reproducing Chinese Culture in Diaspora discusses how a group of anti-communist Chinese exiles from Yunnan Province have managed to establish a rural livelihood in Thailand’s northern hills over the past half century. When faced with the seemingly invincible Communist forces that were sweeping across the Mainland, these nationals retreated in 1949 or shortly thereafter to the Golden Triangle that sits astride the borders of Burma, Laos, and Thailand in voluntary exile. This book mainly concerns their hardships as they have struggled to carve out a new life along with their attempts to find an agricultural identity in the area. Initially gaining power as drug traffickers and narco-kings, the Yunnan exiles have transformed into sustainable farming leaders. Yet, despite their success in establishing themselves in Thailand, their community is facing a steep decline that threatens their long time survival.

Part of their rationale in leaving communist China in search of a new settlement in the Golden Triangle, the exiles sought to protect Chinese traditions and ideals in the face of what they felt was Western influence. Yet, in their attempts to maintain their traditions, they’ve drifted to the opposite extreme, treating those traditions as sacrosanct and adhering to them rigidly. As a result, many of the younger generations are fleeing the communities from this “cultural petrification,” and those who stay openly challenge the authoritarian old guard in a desire to modernize. This clash of old vs new severely strains a prosperous yet fragile community, clouding its future in uncertainty.

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Border Landscapes: The Politics of Akha Land Use in China and Thailand
Janet C. Sturgeon

Border_LandscapesIn this comparative, interdisciplinary study based on extensive fieldwork as well as historical sources, Janet Sturgeon examines the different trajectories of landscape change and land use among communities who call themselves Akha (known as Hani in China) in contrasting political contexts. She shows how, over the last century, processes of state formation, construction of ethnic identity, and regional security concerns have contributed to very different outcomes for Akha and their forests in China and Thailand, with Chinese Akha functioning as citizens and grain producers, and Akha in Thailand being viewed as “non-Thai” forest destroyers.

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