"Buy This One!" Migrant Beer Sellers in Southeast Asia
In this presentation I draw from a participatory research project with migrant beer sellers in the capital cities of Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos that examines the intersections of gender, work, and health. I begin by outlining the journeys of migrant beer sellers from rural villages to urban centres, primarily at the behest of their increasingly dispossessed farm families, and describe how their social location is further complicated by globalized notions of beauty, which influences where they will be inserted into the variegated and hierarchical beer promotion industry. Although routinely subject to stigmatization, harassment and abuse, many women feel empowered by their earning capacity, distance from family, sexual expression, embrace of modernity and consumerism, and solidarity with other migrant beer sellers. I will situate these observations within the ways in which precarity is generated, resisted, and subverted across dimensions of: space (global, national, urban and rural); gender (roles, identities, and performance); and neoliberal globalization with its impacts on rural livelihoods, available economic opportunities, consumerism, hegemonic ideas of beauty and the creation of desires.