Construct of a Cross-Border Community in-between the Thailand and Myanmar’s Border Space through Cross-Border Movements of Ethnic Traders

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Yuthpong Chantrawarin


          This paper investigated the making of a cross-border community Myanmar’s ethnic traders between the Thailand-Myanmar bordey exploring the interconnection of their cross-border mobility, network and illegal/illicit components of commodities. The border towns of Mae Sai, Thailand’s northernmost town, and Tachilek, Myanmar’s eastern town, witnessed dynamic transformation under regional development. The border trade and tourism booms drew Myanmar’s ethnics from Myanmar hinterland to Tachilek, before then crossing the borders to Mae Sai in quest of economic well-being. Having had experienced high levels of business competition in Tachilek, these migrant traders, made up of the Burmese, Shan, Burmese Chinese and Burmese Muslim, crossed the borders to sell pirated CD/DVDs, smuggled brand-name cigarettes and Viagra to tourists in Mae Sai. This paper argued that the ethnic traders’ border tactics—those derived from the everyday cross-border mobility taken place between Mae Sai-Tachilek, and based on manipulation of the states’ regulatory cross-border loopholes—contributed to the creation of a cross-border community. The community—embedded in, and demonstrated through, daily spatial and socio-economic interrelation between the two borders—was a hybridized, divisive, yet integrative border space. Their community in-between the borders helped them create new opportunities and new profits. The in-between state borders were re-defined, re-functioned and given a new meaning in their own right
. This paper was qualitative research and its research tools includedresearch papersunmet, observation and in-depth interviews.


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