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Othering mechanisms and multiple positionings: Children of Thai-Belgian couples as viewed in Thailand and Belgium

Mécanismes d’altérité et positionnements multiples : comment sont perçus les enfants des couples belgo-thaï en Thaïlande et en Belgique
Asuncion Fresnoza-Flot
p. 139-161

Abstracts

Studies on the so-called “second generation” mainly focus on individuals whose parents are both migrants. This overlooks the situation of the children of “mixed” couples, in which one parent is a migrant and the other a citizen of the country in which they live. These mixed-parentage young people mostly inhabit cross-border social spaces that connect their parents’ respective countries of origin. Given this situation, how are these young people viewed in the countries in which they are enmeshed? How do they position themselves in relation to the viewpoints and stereotypes about them in these social spaces that traverse the borders of nation-states?
To answer these questions, the present study examines the case of children of Thai-Belgian couples, who are called
luk-kreung (half-child) in Thailand and métis in Belgium. Analysis of the empirical data gathered using qualitative methods shows that the study informants had access to citizenship in both of their parents’ countries of origin. Nonetheless, they remained widely subjected to othering due to their phenotypic characteristics, which are perceived as “different” from those of the majority population. This othering prompted them to adopt multiple positioning strategies: invisibilising their ethnic roots, accepting and highlighting their supposed “Otherness”, and acquiring Thai nationality (for those who did not yet have it).

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Outline

Introduction
Othering and the children of mixed couples
Intermarriages of Thais and the birth of luk-kreung
Researching children of Thai-Belgian parentage in their cross-national social spaces
Children of Thai-Belgian couples as racialised “Others” here and there
Integrated legally but Othered socially in Belgium
Thai-Belgian luk-kreung as valorised but partially included Others in Thailand
“I want to be in the airplane” : Multiple positionings of Thai-Belgian young people
Conclusion

Text / first lines

Introduction

In May 2013, in Stockholm, the members of the Thai Women Network in Europe (TWNE) held their annual gathering. It was their 13th assembly since the network was founded in the early 2000s, and the theme of the meeting was mental health of Thai migrants. Many Thai women from different European countries attended with their friends and TWNE co-members, whereas a few others arrived with their ethnically diverse families. Given my low level of proficiency in Thai, I attended the gathering with my Thai friend who translated for me the many conversations and discussions held in Thai. During the second day of the event, invited speakers a few of whom had come from Thailand delivered several lectures. A lawyer working for a government agency in Thailand provided practical and legal information. She mentioned that young Thai men have a voluntary military service “duty” to the Thai state when they turn eighteen but added that those who gave up their Thai nationality do not need t...

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References

Bibliographical reference

Asuncion Fresnoza-Flot, « Othering mechanisms and multiple positionings: Children of Thai-Belgian couples as viewed in Thailand and Belgium »Civilisations, 68 | 2019, 139-161.

Electronic reference

Asuncion Fresnoza-Flot, « Othering mechanisms and multiple positionings: Children of Thai-Belgian couples as viewed in Thailand and Belgium »Civilisations [Online], 68 | 2019, Online since 01 January 2024, connection on 28 November 2020. URL: http://journals.openedition.org/civilisations/5542; DOI: https://doi.org/10.4000/civilisations.5542

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About the author

Asuncion Fresnoza-Flot

Asuncion Fresnoza-Flot est chercheure qualifiée FRS-FNRS (Fonds de la recherche scientifique) et maîtresse d’enseignement à l’Université libre de Bruxelles. Elle a coédité le numéro spécial « Transnational perspectives on intersecting experiences: Gender, social class and generation among Southeast Asian migrants and their families », Journal of Ethnic and Migrations Studies 43(6) (2017) et l’ouvrage International marriages and marital citizenship. Southeast Asian women on the move (2017). Ses recherches actuelles examinent la mobilité contextuelle des couples belgo-asiatiques dans leurs espaces sociaux transfrontaliers [Laboratoire d’anthropologie des mondes contemporains (LAMC), Université libre de Bruxelles, avenue F. Roosevelt 50, CP 124, 1050 Bruxelles, Belgique] – Asuncion.Fresnoza[at]ulb.ac.be

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