Demanding Daughter Duty
Gender, Community, Village Transformation, and Transnational Marriages in Northeast Thailand
The transnationalization of rural villages in the northeast region of Thailand through women’s transnational marriages is reconfiguring gendered familial obligations in the form of “daughter duty.” This article shows how economic and social remittances from dutiful village daughters who are married to foreign husbands connect local villages and communities to the global, bypassing Thai nation-state institutions and agencies that have inadequately addressed the disadvantageous position of Thailand’s Isan region. This transnational process depends on daughters’ (and mothers’) commitment to their care work and to their role as nurturers of the family, kin, schools, temples, and community — the community being seen as a familial extension in this matrilocal society. Women’s upward economic mobility and their adherence to valued filial roles contribute to the community’s increased favorable acceptance of women with foreign partners, leading to a greater number of transnational marriages. This article offers a nuanced reading of the so-called phua farang phenomenon (transnational marriages) based on an analysis of transformations brought about by daughter duty and the agrarian changes taking place in villages in Thailand’s Isan region as the result of the rapid growth of transnational marriages.