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Rural-Urban Migration and Ethnic Minority Enterprise

Abstract

Over the last years, an increasing number of Thailand’s ethnic highland minorities has moved to urban and tourist areas to enter self-employment. While most urban-based minorities remain invisible for visitors and other outsiders, eye-catching female Akha handicraft and souvenir sellers became part of an informal sector that is linked to the global tourism economy. This chapter illustrates the evolvement of urban Akha souvenir businesses over time and space and explores the embeddedness of female Akha entrepreneurs in social networks and in wider economic and political-institutional structures as well as the resulting chances and challenges. This chapter also explores the strategies Akha migrants employ to become successful entrepreneurs by showing how they transform cultural and social resources into economic capital.

Keywords

  • Social Capital
  • Ethnic Minority
  • Cultural Capital
  • Tourist Area
  • Street Vendor

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The term “hilltribes” refers to the ethnic minority groups residing in the highlands of Southeast Asia. For a discussion on ethnicity and the politics of ethnic classification in Thailand, see Winichakul (1994) and Laungaramsri (2003). In this article, I use the term ethnic minorities, hilltribes, and highlanders alternately.

  2. 2.

    See explanations in Chaps. 4 and 14 on networks and social capital.

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Acknowledgments

My thanks go to Prasit Leepreecha and Panadda Boonyasaranai from the Center for Ethnic Studies and Development (CESD) of Chiang Mai University for advising and hosting me during the field work period as well as to Kosita Butratana for her field research assistance. I am grateful to the National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT) for granting me research permission. My deepest debt, however, is to the Akha who shared their thoughts and experiences with me.

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Trupp, A. (2014). Rural-Urban Migration and Ethnic Minority Enterprise. In: Liamputtong, P. (eds) Contemporary Socio-Cultural and Political Perspectives in Thailand. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-7244-1_17

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