Kinship Histories and Industrial Migrations in Thailand

Chantal Croteau, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Industries of extraction have long flourished in the resource rich region of southern Thailand, shaping social dynamics and intercommunal relations in sometimes violent ways through the structuring of labor, opportunities and demands for interregional trade, and systems of production. In Phang Nga, Thailand, the tin mining industry exploded in the 19th century, generating socioeconomic changes and bringing individuals with different ethnoreligious identities, themselves not homogenous categories, together in new ways. As tin supplies were depleted in the late twentieth century, rubber and oil palm plantation work replaced mining as a key source of revenue for the province. This paper traces histories, especially the locally significant category of kinship histories, of migration through a focus on the tin mining, rubber, and oil palm industries in Phang Nga. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, oral history conversations, and archival research, this paper examines the relationship between extractive industries, migration, and intercommunal relations in Phang Nga. In particular, this paper focuses on the histories that former tin mining employees and individuals connected to the oil palm and rubber industries share about themselves, the myriad ways that family and individual migration are framed and retold, and the roles that kinship histories in contexts of migration, maintained through verbal narratives and everyday practices such as the offering of food, play in shaping dynamics of intercommunal relations in an ethnoreligiously diverse region.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 213. Southeast Asia