The Intimate Economies of Bangkok: Tomboys, Tycoons, and Avon Ladies in the Global City

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9780520237834: The Intimate Economies of Bangkok: Tomboys, Tycoons, and Avon Ladies in the Global City

Bangkok has been at the frontier of capitalism's drive into the global south for three decades. Rapid development has profoundly altered public and private life in Thailand. In her provocative study of contemporary commerce in Bangkok, Ara Wilson captures the intimate effects of the global economy in this vibrant city.

The Intimate Economies of Bangkok is a multifaceted portrait of the intertwining of identities, relationships, and economics during Bangkok's boom years. Using innovative case studies of women's and men's participation in a range of modern markets—department stores, go-go bars, a popular downtown mall, a telecommunications company, and the direct sales corporations Amway and Avon—Wilson chronicles the powerful expansion of capitalist exchange into further reaches of Thai society. She shows how global economies have interacted with local systems to create new kinds of lifestyles, ranging from "tomboys" to corporate tycoons to sex workers.

Combining feminist theory with classic anthropological understandings of exchange, this historically grounded ethnography maps the reverberations of gender, sexuality, and ethnicity at the hub of Bangkok's modern economy.

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From the Inside Flap:

"Wilson shows us how global dreams come to life in the cacophony of Bangkok's markets. Business tycoons, sex workers, mall strollers, and penny capitalists: Each forms an exemplary figure, a source of reflection and emulation. In this engrossing work, the women and men of Bangkok produce themselves--and the global economy. I have seen no better ethnography of globalization."—Anna Tsing, author of In the Realm of the Diamond Queen

"This fascinating book draws together the strands that weave intimate and kinship worlds into the fabric of the modern Thai economy. From floating markets to department stores and go-go bars, Wilson's inquiry reveals the gendered practices that sustain economic domains, and how these commercial venues in turn recast the intimate life. Upending stereotypical notions about Thai gender, Intimate Economies casts a complex, feminist perspective on the new styles of being emerging in the spaces of global capitalism."—Aihwa Ong, author of Buddha Is Hiding

"Wilson brilliantly deciphers the ways intimate lives--personas, subjectivities, relations--are involved in the formation of modern and transnational capitalist markets. To do this she carefully unpacks the social infrastructure of five different globalized markets in Bangkok."—Saskia Sassen, author of Guests and Aliens

"Offers something rare and valuable in studies of globalization--a fine-grained ethnography at the intersection of capitalist and non-capitalist economies. In Ara Wilson's fascinating study of urban Thailand, the sex trade is intertwined with the gift economy, the department store with the kin economy. Navigating this often surprising terrain with unusual agility, Wilson has produced a masterful record of new worlds and new subjects in the making."—Julie Graham, co-author of The End of Capitalism (As We Knew It): A Feminist Critique of Political Economy

About the Author:

Ara Wilson is Associate Professor of Women's Studies at Ohio State University.

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Ara Wilson
Published by University of California Press (2004)
ISBN 10: 0520237838 ISBN 13: 9780520237834
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Wilson, Ara
Published by University of California Press (2004)
ISBN 10: 0520237838 ISBN 13: 9780520237834
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