Cross-Border Traders in Northern Laos
Cross-Border Traders in Northern Laos
Mastering Smallness
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15.6 x 23.4 cm
Asian Studies
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Table of Contents
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Notes on Language and Transliteration
CHAPTER 1 - “We are all Tai Lue”: International Trade Fairs as Local Ethnic Affairs
CHAPTER 2 - “Normal fruits for Laos, premium fruits for China”: Transnational Flows of National Differences
CHAPTER 3 - “Thailand: high quality; China: low price”: “Banal Cosmopolitanism” in Local Marketplaces
CHAPTER 4 - “I didn’t learn any occupation, so I trade”: Narratives of Insignificance
CHAPTER 5 - “No matter what, we’ll find a way”: Uncertain (Chinese?) Futures
CONCLUSION - Large Insights from Smallness
Complete Bibliography

Simon Rowedder

Cross-Border Traders in Northern Laos

Mastering Smallness

Northern Laos has become a prominent spot in large-scale, top-down mappings and studies of neoliberal globalisation and infrastructural development linking Thailand and China, and markets further beyond. Yet in the common narrative, in which Laos appears as a weak victim helplessly exposed to its larger neighbours, attention is seldom paid to local voices. This book fills this gap. Building on long-term multi-sited fieldwork, it accompanies northern Lao cross-border traders closely in their transnational worlds of mobilities, social relations, economic experimentation and aspiration. Cross-Border Traders in Northern Laos: Mastering Smallness demonstrates that these traders’ indispensable but often invisible role in the everyday workings of the China-Laos-Thailand borderland economy relies on their rhetoric and practices of ‘smallness’—of framing their transnational trade activities in a self-deprecating manner and stressing their economic inferiority. Decoding their discursive surface of insignificance, this ethnography of ‘smallness’ foregrounds remarkable transnational social and economic skills that are mostly invisible in Sino-Southeast Asian borderland scholarship.

Simon Rowedder

Simon Rowedder was a Research Fellow at the Department of Southeast Asian Studies, National University of Singapore (NUS), and member of the NUS-Max Weber Foundation Research Group on Borders, Mobilities and New Infrastructures. In December 2021, he became Assistant Professor of Development Politics at the University of Passau in Germany.