Migration to the Countryside
Class Encounters in Peri-Urban Chiang Mai, Thailand
Author: Tubtim Tubtim
The study of migration in the countryside, particularly in Southeast Asian developing countries, has been heavily focused on one-way out-migration of people with smallholder farming backgrounds to work in cities or even abroad. Recently, however, with improvements in infrastructure that allow intensified flows of commodities and information, as well as enhanced personal mobility, rural migration processes have become increasingly complex and dynamic. A particularly intriguing phenomenon is the migration of urban middle-class residents away from the city. Such newcomers bring with them different lifestyles, values, and expectations about the countryside, both in terms of its landscape and its social relations. This article will explore an example in the peri-urban zone around Chiang Mai, Thailand. The author argues that the arrival of newcomers in rural settings has created a new set of class relations, rooted more in culture than in relations of production. This argument is illustrated through an analysis of everyday encounters based on ethnographic observations in a village where the author lived from 2007 to 2009.