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Title: How the Displaced People Help Themselves
Authors: Thammasat University
Date: 2011
Abstract: Displaced people living in the borderland are frequently regarded as highly marginalized. The discursive language of ‘displaced people’ usually depicts people without hope, idle and waiting to be assisted. Such depictions mask a far more complex borderland reality. The Thai-Burma borderland constitutes both geo-political spatiality and practices of social interaction. There are multiple realities, as well as various forms of negotiation and interaction at play. On the one hand, the border and the borderland represent the constraints and repression imposed by the nation-state and its agency; on the other hand it is a place of production, of opportunity, not only economically but also in the re-constitution of ethnic solidarity. Ethnicity has held the displaced Burma Karen and the Thai-Karen together and gives coherence to the rather turbulent political border-landscape. The Karen displaced people live lives making use of the porous border and the different services and support available on both sides of the border. They have shown an aptitude to organization, and to constant adaptation, which evolves within the limits imposed by the complex environment. People’s daily practices disrupt the conventional representation of the displaced Karen. Yet, the way in which the area along the border is governed affect the options that they can take on a daily basis. In other word, their strategies of survival are structured by power relations which they must learn of how best to manage.
Project Number: 106646
Project Title: Lives and Livelihoods of Displaced Communities in Northern Thailand
Access: IDRC Only
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