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Reconstituting Thailand's Technology-intensive Shrimp Farms Through Gendered Migration

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Resurreccion, Bernadette P.; Sajor, Edsel E.
Conference: Governing Shared Resources: Connecting Local Experience to Global Challenges, the Twelfth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Commons
Location: Cheltenham, England
Conf. Date: July 14-18, 2008
Date: 2008
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1462
Sector: Social Organization
Subject(s): gender
Abstract: "Thai shrimp farm owners'cost efficiency goals complement the needs for a conjugal home and workplace by migrant couple workers from Laos, Myanmar and northeast Thailand, which in turn has created a 'emigrant slot' among Surat Thani Province's shrimp farms. The conjugal workforce in shrimp farms is however differentiated by the creation of the female worker subject, publicly defined as 'not a real worker.' By paying migrants a couple wage, employers re-create and solidify discourses on the work and labor capacities that differentiate women and men in shrimp farms. Women workers for their part acquiesce to 'not being a real worker' in order to achieve certain ends, such as exploring supplementary income sources or creating latitude for childcare. Only Thai women, however, are able to find other income sources, whereas Burmese and Lao workers are largely tied to husbands and employers due to existing legal impediments. Women workers'enactments of 'not being a real worker' thus in turn reproduce and differentiate migrant national subjects engaged in the fisheries sector of Thailand. The paper argues that the production of gender and migrant differentiated identities constitute technology-intensive shrimp farming and its premium place in Thailand's export economy. By a focus on identities constituted by resource use, this paper puts in question essentialist and reified assumptions about gender and gender differences. Instead, we place social practices that produce gender subjects and their ontological differences at the center of analysis, thereby attentive to the diversity of subject positions available to different women in a single context."

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