Uneven Development in the Mekong Region, Infrastructure and Gender Relations

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Our panel proposal for the 3rd International Conference for International Relations and Development to be held at Chulalongkorn University in November has been accepted. These are the details that I submitted (and may vary slightly for the final version):

Rationale:

Uneven development in the Mekong Region is linked to the distribution of natural resources and the geographic conditions of specific areas. The unevenness of development may be mitigated or exacerbated by the creation of physical infrastructure, including road and rail links, power and telephone lines, dams and river basin management systems. While the impacts of infrastructure development may be evident at a large geographical scale, there may be a significant level of churn at a much lower level – the level of the household. Within households, gender relations may be affected by the unanticipated and sometimes unintended consequences of charges at a higher level. Previous research has shown how the opening of a bridge over the Mekong has transformed cross-border arbitrage opportunities previously available to small-scale female entrepreneurs, intensified problems and opportunities for returning female migrants and created the opportunity for the creation of para-statal areas which are beyond the effective reach of accountable governmental organizations. These changes have been accompanied by a version of the Great Transformation passing across the Mekong Region that has occurred, in part at least, through a process of accumulation by dispossession. Numerous other changes have been brought about at the household and community levels as a result of changes such as these and many are susceptible to observation from qualitative research approaches and measurement from quantitative research approaches. This panel aims to explore the nature of these changes in the Mekong Region and their impacts on gender relations within households using a mixture of methodologies and with a view to helping to understand the interrelationships between changes at the macro scale and impacts at the micro scale.

Panellists will include:

Teresita Del Rosario will present an overview of development and its impact on gender relations with specific reference to the Mekong Region.

Alin Chintraruck, whose paper will explore the processes and purposes of privatization in the water industry in the southern part of Thailand in the context of increasing demand and diverse sources of water and its impact on households.

Petcharat Lovichakorntikul and Sirirat Ngamsang will present the results of a comparative quantitative study on changes in agricultural production in Thailand and Cambodia associated with variations in choice of rice seeds, pesticides and fertilizers and the impact this has on gendered decision-making in the household.

John Walsh will describe the spread and intensification of industrial estates and Special Economic Zones across the Mekong Region, their interaction with the increasing physical infrastructure of, in particular, the Asian Highway Network and the changes this has led to in household and community relations.

Affiliations of Panellists:

Professor Dr. Teresita Del Rosario is Institutional Capacity Needs Assessment Specialistat Asian Development Bank, Thailand, Visiting Senior Fellow at the Center for Asian Law Studies and Visiting Associate Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore.

Ms. Alin Chintraruck is a doctoral candidate at the School of Management, Shinawatra University.

Ms. Petcharat Lovichakorntikul is a doctoral candidate at the School of Management, Shinawatra University.

Ms. Sirirat Ngamsang is a doctoral candidate at the School of Maangement, Shinawatra University.

Dr. John Walsh is Director of the Research Centre, Shinawatra University, Editor of the SIU Journal of Management and Assistant Professor at the School of Management, Shinawatra University.

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