Southeast Asian Studies
Online ISSN : 2423-8686
Print ISSN : 2186-7275
ISSN-L : 2186-7275
Military, Gender, and Trade: The Story of Auntie Duan of the Northern Thai Borderlands
Wen-Chin Chang
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2017 Volume 6 Issue 3 Pages 423-445


This paper explores Auntie Duan’s life story, a story that mirrors remarkable female Yunnanese Chinese migrants’ economic agency in the face of numerous vicissitudes caused by contextual and personal tragedies. Auntie Duan (born in 1938) and her family fled from Yunnan to Burma in 1950 after the Chinese Communists took over China. Being a woman, a refugee, and a widow moving repeatedly among borderlands, she led a life characterized by a multiplicity of peripheral positionings. In order to survive and raise her children, she participated in different economic activities, most saliently as a borderland trader. By focusing on her life story based on her oral narratives, I attempt to illustrate her steps of economic initiation in combating a range of adversities. Furthermore, with a comparison to Anna Tsing’s Meratus gendered politics, I look into embedded meanings in gender asymmetry among migrant Yunnanese communities.

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© 2017 Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University
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