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Globalising Thailand through gendered ‘both-ways’ migration pathways with ‘the West’: cross-border connections between people, states, and places

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-09, 20:37 authored by Paul StathamPaul Statham, Sarah ScuzzarelloSarah Scuzzarello, Sirijit Sunanta, Alexander Trupp
This article explains why significant Thai-Western ‘both-ways’ migration pathways have evolved, grown and sustained over the last decades. It introduces a set of research contributions on transnational social relationships and cross-border connections between people that arise from the increasingly large-scale mobilities and migrations between Thailand and ‘the West’ – countries from Europe, North America and Australia. While Thai and Western people’s social relationships are usually studied as personal stories within a cross-border marriage migration perspective, we consider it necessary to see them as more than marriage migration. Specifically, we argue that the growing ‘both-ways’ Thai-Western migration pathways can only be understood by reference to three features of globalisation processes specific to Thailand: first, cross-border connections and social networks generated by massive West-to-Thailand tourist mobilities that incentivise Western men to see living permanently with a Thai partner as ‘realistic’; second, the radical transformations of Thai rural societies under conditions of economic development that produces ‘surplus’ mobile women; and third, the restrictive state immigration and citizenship regimes in the West and Thailand that leaves few pathways open for migration, other than by ‘marriage’. In sum, Thailand’s specific experience of globalisation is the explanatory backstory to the extraordinary prevalence of Thai-Western ‘both-ways’ migrations.


Publication status

  • Published

File Version

  • Published version


Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies




Taylor & Francis

Department affiliated with

  • Geography Publications

Research groups affiliated with

  • Sussex Centre for Migration Research Publications

Full text available

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Peer reviewed?

  • Yes

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