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Contested mobilities: gendered migration pressures among Cambodian youth

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This paper explores how gender norms and expectations shape the migration decision-making processes of Cambodian young people, in a community characterized by high levels of migration to Thailand. Based on qualitative fieldwork with migrant and nonmigrant youth, I examine how young people make sense of migration and its local alternatives, and highlight the various gendered pressures that young people, and particularly men, experience for migration. Given the lack of local life-making alternatives that neatly conform to hegemonic masculine ideals, young men experience strong pressures for migration and encounter negative social judgments where they seek to stay put. In contrast, young women experience less forceful migration pressures, perceive meaningful alternative life-making projects in the village, and feel more free to actively resist migration. More generally, my findings highlight the importance of interrogating gendered processes of migration not only in terms of how they affect women and those who choose to migrate but also with consideration to how they affect men, and those who choose – or would prefer – to stay home.
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Keywords: Cambodia; Camboya; gender; género; juventud; masculinidad; masculinity; migración; migration; youth

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Lewis and Clark College, Portland, OR, USA

Publication date: September 14, 2015

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