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Open Seminar: Deferral and Intimacy: Long-distance Romance and Thai Migrants Abroad
November 2, 2019 - 13:00-14:30
Aek’s fiancée, Fern, was already married to a European man. But each month, she sent remittances back to Aek so that he could build them a home and rubber orchard in their hometown in northeastern Thailand. In the meantime, Aek waited for Fern to return. But in the time spent waiting, plans, aspirations, and even bodies changed. As Aek and Fern charted a life together, this deferred life grew more and more spectral. This article is an ethnographic study of the Thai male romantic partners of Thai women working abroad as sex workers or marriage migrants, and their engagement with the problems of impermanence and deferral. Via the “work of waiting” (Kwon 2015) of those left behind, I argue here that waiting is in tension with the impermanence of hopes, selves, and bodies. I ask: what does it mean to “wait,” when what is promised, who promises, and the future date when promises are to be realized are each in flux?
About the speaker:
Andrew Alan Johnson is a Visiting Fellow at the Southeast Asia Program, Cornell University. After receiving his PhD in 2010 in cultural anthropology from Cornell University, he has held positions at the Department of Anthropology at Princeton University, Yale-NUS College, the National University of Singapore, and Columbia University. His first book, Ghosts of the New City, was published in 2014 by University of Hawaii Press, and his second book, Shadows on the Mekong, is under review.
The seminar is co-arranged by the Department of Social Anthropology and the Forum for Asian Studies, Stockholm University.
The direct link to the event can be found here.