Standing in the Shadows: Of Matrilocality and the Role of Women in a Village Election in Northern Thailand
This article reviews Metrilocality societies in Thailand. It explores gender roles as defined by community customs in the region. The article traces the disputes arising before and after an election and highlights the role of women in solving these disputes. It also looks at the varied causes of the dispute. The article examines extended households in matrilocal societies. It also highlights the discrimination of women by men considered as family heads and shows that women despite being lower in the family hierarchy play a significant role of heading the households such as resolving disputes, engaging in economic activities to feed their families and helping their husbands to cope with new environments and family members. The article demonstrates how conflicts brought out the hidden role of women in the matrilineal societies (Bowie 2008:136-153).
Central Issue Addressed
The article assesses how matrilocality and matrillineality plays an important gender role in the politics, and brings out the paradox of women being important and simultaneously invisible in the politics.
Importance of Central Issue Addressed
The analysis assists in the understanding of Thai village electoral politics by factoring in the domain of women. The article highlights the intertwining of the domain of women in the village cultures of matrilocal and matrilineal kinship.
Use of Scholarly Literature
The author uses scholarly articles to place his research in the context of the Thai woman domain. For example, the author refers to literature in bringing out the history of the Thai woman, noting that the ignorance of the fact that Thailand was the first country to give women rights to vote has been a source of androcentric bias in political studies. The author also refers to social drama literature while studying the interpretation of domestic and political issues in the Thai village context. The author uses the literature to bring out the significance conflicts to appreciate the fundamental aspects making up a society, that are otherwise hidden when only customs and habits are reviewed. In describing the nature of matrilocal residency and the household’s kin the matrilineal villages, the author uses literature covering the customs and traditions of the Thai people. Furthermore, the author points out the characteristics of the Thai households in relation to general theories of social organizations (Bowie 2008:136-153).
Analysis of Original Author’s Material
The author’s material is an ethnographic study. The study is a compilation of the findings that the author examined and experienced while living among the Thai people and participation in their daily lives for a period of 30 years to the extent of assuming bias positions in her opinions in local politics. During the fieldwork, the author looks at the issue of village politics and personally experiences the roles of the women as well as their interventions in their various households. In addition, the author notes how husbands despite being the heads of their families have no choice but to vote in accordance with their wives political affiliations, an issue that brings conflicts between the husband’s parent family and their wives family. While witnessing the conflicts, the author further gains insight into the context of women’s simultaneously disappearance and appearance in the running of matrilineal households(Bowie 2008:136-153).
The author studies the history of the Thai people in relation to matrilocality and then examines the political environment of a Thai village. In order to bring out findings to the reader, the author offers a narration of four cases of conflict that highlight women visibility and invincibility in relation to their assigned roles in the matrilocal residences under study.
Strengths and weaknesses
The author majorly relies on her understanding of the Thai village households, and only consults academic literature strengthens her opinion. As a source of bias, this fact makes the research weak. However, the ethnographic nature of the study puts the author positions to presents her findings as credible. Secondly, use of actual cases in presenting the study findings bring out clearly the issues examined by the author, leaving little room for research gaps (Bowie 2008:136-153).
The article has provided a deeper understanding of kinship, in defining women roles in the matrilineal societies of the Thai people. The article has highlights decent in matrilineal societies. The composition of matrilocal residences and households in Thai villages stands out from the article. It has also highlighted the role of ceremonies and customs in fostering kinship relations while highlighting how husbands after leaving their parents, freely embrace the customs of their wives families (Miller 2010:204-214). The article has also highlighted how household’s patterns are changing as in the example of the Thai women gaining rights to vote and becoming more visible in the household (Miller 2010:220-221).
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