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Article Released Thu-4th-October-2007 09:24 GMT
Contact: Asian Institute of Technology Institution: Asian Institute of Technology
 Gender, Cross-border Migrant Workers and Citizenship: A case study of the Burmese-Thai border

The issue of social reproduction is becoming central to the increasingly marginalized status of migrants both in Thailand and in Burma, particularly the issue of babies born to Burmese migrant workers in Thailand, which is creating a whole generation of stateless children.

The overall objective of the study is to examine the reality of migrant Burmese women factory workers in Thailand as they participate in globalisation of production – how they are created as a new group of cheap labour and how these are affected by and affects investment and production in Thailand. In particular we are interested in issues of identity, citizenship and gender relations of these workers, who are suspended between a hostile home state with few economic opportunities and a reluctant host state which offers economic options in conditions which are vastly inferior to those available to its own citizens.

During this period of the project (which effectively started in December 2006), we reviewed the development of Thai policies concerning “irregular” migrant workers and decentralisation of industrial production, and organized a series of meetings and workshops to discuss key issues with migrant workers and NGOs and labour organisations working with them. The policy contradictions between different strands of Thai Government policy, which are deliberately created as such to exploit cheap labour of migrant workers, especially Burmese women migrant workers, have been clearly demonstrated in the policy review. The issue of social reproduction is becoming central to the increasingly marginalized status of migrants both in Thailand and in Burma, particularly the issue of babies born to Burmese migrant workers in Thailand, which is creating a whole generation of stateless children.

The project will proceed to interview migrant workers in the second year, with view to following up a series of new issues which have emerged from the research so far. These include job mobility of migrant workers, which appears to be quite high in some situations, contrary to what is often assumed; the legal “no-man’s land”; issues of those workers who could not access the registration procedure for “temporary irregular migrants” in 2004; and the implications of the current inter-governmental negotiations for a new Memorandum of Understanding with Myanmar. The project will be exploring more of their social network as well as their negotiation with the states of Thailand and Burma as well as with their community back home and in Thailand.

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The lead researcher for this project is Dr Kyoko Kusakabe, Associate Dean of School of Environment Resources and Development, Asian Institute of Technology. This project is in collaboration with University of Leeds, UK.

Contact details of Dr Kyoko Kusakabe is available to registered journalists from the link below

Associated links

Funding information

International Development Research Center

Keywords associated to this article: migrant workers, Thai-Myanmar boder
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