Panel: Negotiating Bodies, Gender & Sexuality of Shan Migrant Workers in Thailand

Session 6, Friday, 5 Mar 2021 from 15.15-16.30. Convened by Amporn Jirattikorn from Chiang Mai University’s Department of Social Science and Development with discussant Erin Kamler, affiliated researcher with Chiang Mai University.

The panel will investigate the relationship between migration and gender and sexuality, focusing on Shan people who’ve migrated to seek work in Thailand, as well as cross-border Shan involved in border area trade. Three case studies will be explored. One looks at how Shan female traders employ gendered strategies when encountering multiple multi-group ethnic conflicts. The second paper explores the context of sexual commodification where Shan male migrants engage in male-centered sex work in Chiang Mai. It discusses how Shan male migrants negotiate within different multiple power structures at play through their masculine body. The last paper discusses life of Shan female migrant sex workers living with HIV in Chiang Mai, explores how Shan migrant women experience and deal with HIV stigma under conditions of being female, migrant, sex worker and HIV-positive, all characterized as “spoiled identity”. Together, the panel attempts to shed light into a better understanding of how migration, borders, body, femininity and masculinity are played and negotiated in the transnational context.