Representing ‘Cross-Cultural’ Relationships: Troubling Essentialist Visions of Power and Identity in a Thai Tourist Setting

  • Linda Malam Department of Geography, The National University of Singapore
Keywords: romance tourism, cross-cultural relationship, gendered identity, spatiality of identity, power, identity


In this paper, I explore the dynamics of intimate relationships between Thai men working in the tourism industry and tourist women from various countries including England, Australia, USA, Canada, Italy, France and Spain. Relationships between men who work in the tourism industry and tourist women have received considerable academic attention over the past decade, yet much of the analysis seeks to pin the identities of the men and women down to essentialised categories. This paper seeks to challenge existing understandings of relationships that cross axes of difference by bringing a feminist perspective on the spatiality of identity to the analysis. Drawing upon 10 months of ethnographic field research conducted in Southern Thailand from October 2000 to August 2001, I argue that the identities of the men and women participating in these relationships are spatially and temporally specific.
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Special Issue - Sexuality and Gender