Giuseppe Bolotta is a socio-cultural anthropologist and psychologist. He has conducted extensive research in the slums of Bangkok on marginalised childhoods, (religious) NGOs, and the cultural politics of child-focused humanitarianism. He is completing a monograph, provisionally entitled “Small People: Cultural Politics of Marginal Childhood in Bangkok”. Currently, he is Contract Professor of Cultural Anthropology at the University of Milano-Bicocca’s Department of Sociology and Social Research and Research Associate of the Asia Research Institute’s Religion and Globalisation Cluster at the National University of Singapore.

Project Summary

Labour Exploitation, Religious Compassion: Faith-based Schools for Myanmar Children in the Thai Fishing Industry

This project will investigate entanglements between global capitalism, migrant child labour, and faith-based humanitarianism in Samut Sakhon, capital of Thailand’s fishing industry and one of the world’s largest seafood markets. The slave-like working conditions Myanmar economic migrants’ in the Thai seafood sector have recently been brought under the global spotlight by European Union’s “yellow card” to Thailand. This formal warning meant a possible ban on Thai seafood products. Since then, a variety of charitable organisations have been operating in Samut Sakhon to provide irregular, economic migrants with legal, health and educational services. Faith-based organisations are especially visible, targeting migrant workers’ children as an ideal locus of pious engagement and proselytism. My field research focuses on faith-based educational provision for stateless children in this region and will be conducted in two “informal” schools run by different charities (one Buddhist, one Christian) that are attended by undocumented, Myanmar “child labourers”. Through ethnographic research on the education of undocumented children, this timely project will examine the roles of faith-based, child welfare within a maritime landscape of partial citizenship unique (?)  to Southeast Asia.