Loughborough University
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Riverine border practices: people's everyday lives on the Thai-Lao Mekong border

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posted on 2018-07-05, 08:57 authored by Thanachate Wisaijorn
Pluralities of people s crossings of the Mekong Thai-Lao border occur as locals subvert, reject, ignore, and embrace the logic of the national border. From a state-centric point of view, the everyday movements of these people, who rely mainly on a subsistence economy and have their own modes of crossing, are undocumented. I argue that people s mobility co-exists with the practice of sedentary assumption. The aim of this thesis is to promote theory related to the Third Space in Borderland Studies by the presentation and analysis of people s pluralities in border-crossings. The borderland area of Khong Chiam (Thailand)-Sanasomboun (Lao PDR) is the location of an in-between state in which spatial negotiations, temporal negotiations, and negotiations of political subjectivities contribute to the nature of mobility in the Third Space. To achieve the objective of this thesis, ethnographic methodology was used over six months of fieldwork from March to September 2016, and included participant observations, interviews and essay-readings that involved 110 participants in the borderland site. People s movements across the Mekong River border occur daily without formal state approval. From the perspective of the Thai Ban, the river is a lived space in which they catch food and use for transport. However, their interpretation of the Mekong as the state boundary does not completely disappear. This thesis examines the everyday banal pluralities of the Thai Ban s border-crossings by weaving together the three concepts of space, temporality, and negotiations of political subjectivities. The spatial and temporal negotiations involved in the border-crossings shape and are shaped by this other interpretation of the Mekong as a lived space, and different political subjectivities contribute to the pluralities of the crossings. The presentation of these pluralities of border-crossings adds to Borderland Studies specifically and the social sciences in general in the development of an understanding of the Third Space. As this thesis focuses on people s mobility at quasi-state checkpoints and in areas along the Mekong Thai-Lao border with no border checkpoints, it is suggested that future research examines the everyday practices of border-crossings at land borders.


Thailand, Government (scholarship).



  • Social Sciences


  • Politics and International Studies


© Thanachate Wisaijorn

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date



A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.


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