Agricultural work in Thai export crops like corn, palm oil, and rubber have become that of migrant workers from neighboring countries. How do migration zones restructure agricultural economic border geographies? How does the idea of spatial work permits force a rethinking of migration zones? Geographic expansion of where agricultural migrant workers are have contributed to lower-cost production despite declining agricultural crop prices, and in the face of rising (albeit inadequate) minimum wages for Thai workers. While the Lao-Thai border has previously constituted illicit cross-border labor supply chains often viewed as a permissible part of kinship economies, workers from Burma and Cambodia are comparatively more regulated, spatially fixed, with variation in documented border crossings. The paper draws from a larger study conducted in four Provinces as part of a larger research team with the ILO.
July 18, 2018