4 Burmese Female Migrant Workers in Thailand: Managing Productive and Reproductive Responsibilities

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Part of the Hexagon Series on Human and Environmental Security and Peace book series (HSHES, volume 9)


This case study argues that even in increasingly unstable circumstances women migrant workers have to continue to balance their reproductive responsibilities as mothers and daughters with their ongoing roles as wage workers and economic providers, often managing complex transborder care arrangements. The chapter extends the global care chain framework to investigate the ways in which Burmese migrant factory workers in Thailand organize reproduction and childcare in the place of destination and in the in-between places at the international borders between the two countries. The chapter provides new insights into ways migrant women factory workers adapt and strategize to achieve daily, generational, and biological reproduction needs and the links between these strategies and the pattern of capital accumulation in Thailand’s border industrialization strategy. The elaboration of multiple forms of control and regulation from the state to the factory as well as community highlights the structures of constraint as well as the ways women negotiate around these constraints. The aim of the chapter is to delineate key issues of social injustice relating to their nationality and legal ambiguity of status (migrant or worker). Focusing on the individual agency of migrant workers, our research demonstrates that existing analyses of the women’s experiences of work and of harassment in Thailand needs to be supplemented by an understanding of their ongoing but changing connections with home and family, in terms of resourcing care for children, the elderly, and other relatives in their home country, as well as their community and family obligations and responsibilities in their place of employment.


Women migrant workers Thailand Burma/Myanmar social reproduction border factories global care chains nationality citizenship graduated sovereigntys 


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© The Author(s) 2014

Open Access. This chapter is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction any medium, provided the original author(s) and in source are credited.

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Asian Institute of TechnologyPathumthaniThailand
  2. 2.The University of LeedsLeedsUK

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