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Abstract Chalita1

Abstract Chalita1

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 REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFDOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHYINANTHROPOLOGYAUGUST 2013ByChalita BundhuwongDissertation Committee:Leslie E. Sponsel, ChairpersonAlice DeweyJefferson M. FoxAlex GolubChavivun PrachuabmohKrisna SuryanataKeywords: Malay Muslims, Economic Life, Ecological Changes,Southernmost Thailand 
 I could never have finished this dissertation and my PhD without the kindness and supports from many people. The first one is Professor Leslie E. Sponsel, my chair and myadvisor, who always supported me in everything and provided me with his insightfulknowledge on ecological anthropology. Also other committee members—Alice Dewey,Jefferson M.Fox, Krisna Suryanata, and Alex Golub—provided me the valuable experiencesthrough their various classes I took. These classes gave me deep knowledge on politicalecology, environmental issues, community-based resource management, ethnographic methods,and rural people adaptations. The committee’s thoughtful comments on my draft were highlyhelpful for me to improve this dissertation. Also their moral support is very meaningful to meduring difficult time of writing.Without the East-West Center Graduate Degree Fellowship, I would never have had achance to continue my PhD program at UHM. Moreover, East-West Center gave me awonderful experience of living in a multi-cultural community having the great and live-longfriendship with friends from various countries.Even though in general living in Hawaii is such a memorable period, sometimes thesorrows happened to my life, I was able to pass through those difficult times with supports fromseveral of my very good friends in Hale Kuahine a nd Hale Manoa especially Pei-Luen Lu,Xiaofeng Kang, and Parichart Jungwiwattanaporn.I would never have been able to conduct the long-time field research safely insouthernmost Thailand, which is the region full of unrest and violence, without friendship, care,and trust from Kampong Ai Hetae residents. I specially wish to express my indebtedness to myhost family’s members, who all the time makes me feel like I am also a real member of thefamily. I would like to give special thanks to Wipa Sukpornsawan (Pi Kiang) and SamsudingDosormi and his family, and other friends in the southernmost region who brought me to thefield in the first place and had helped assist me all the time during my fieldwork.Without love and sacrifice of my parents, I could never have come to this stage. It is mygreat loss that my father passed away three years ago when I was in Hawai’i. I wish he could stay with me in the day that I can complete my degree. Finally, I would like to acknowledgeAnusorn Unno, my husband. Without his supports and encouragements I am certain that Icould not have been as I am today.
The economic life of rural Malay Muslims in Kampong Ai Hetae in southernmostThailand is examined. The affects of the politics of Thai state development on the ecosystem isexplored together with local farming practices and resource uses amidst ecological changes, themarket economy, conflict and violence. This dissertation also relates agriculture to other dimensions of rural transformation to understand economic life.The dissertation research revealed that economic development in the region has aimed to stabilize Thai nation-state ideology under the assumption that poverty is the main cause of the civil unrest. However, the development, which aims to incorporate Malay Muslim identityand ignores ecological values and the meaningful participation of local residents, has not beensuccessful in suppressing the unrest nor in improving the economic life.Local residents have adapted farming practices to try to continue to use the changingecological system and also to pursue new economic incentives. While trying to cope withunsupportive development and intermittent violence, the local residents face many serious risksall alone. The use of chemicals in farming and conflicts over common resources seemunavoidable. Agriculture is the foundation for households to gain better opportunities in thenon-farm sector in the face of the rural transformations in the region. Modern lifestyle and consumption can’t be separated from investment in farming. The intensification of Islamstrengthened by the robust commercial farming in turn shapes the community’s political power reproducing the failure of development.The local economic life is full of ups and downs although not destitute. However,increasing pressure on the land with population growth is unsustainable even with increasinginvolvement in non-farm activities, and it will bring more difficulties in the future. Even if development were sustainable and the rural poor could cultivate new skills, education, and networks for employment in non-farming jobs, the quality of life of local residents will still bedepreciated if the conflicts continue in the south. Quality of life is not only economic, but alsoecological, cultural, and political, and it will be diminished as long as the development is under the Thai nation-state ideology.

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