Pholsena, Vatthana

Vatthana Pholsena is a researcher at the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and affiliated with the Centre Asie du Sud-Est (CASE) in Paris. She taught undergraduate and graduate students and supervised M.A. and Ph.D. thesis at the National University of Singapore. Her research interest is on the process of state making in upland Mainland Southeast Asia; the politics of history and memory; youth and socialization during wartime. She has conducted research projects in Laos (ethnic and social identities in relation to state-nation building project; history of the Vietnam War in the uplands; narratives of the past) and in Vietnam (cross-border mobility and state territorialization).

Summary of Project: 

This project examines the politics of citizenship in the Lao-Thai border regions through the conceptualization of citizenship as a socio-cultural construct. Our focus is on Lao citizens who have lived in Northeastern Thailand, recently or not, and their experiences of citizenship as migrants in a region to which they feel close culturally. How has their transnational experience affected their representations and meaning of citizenship? In this research, we will play close attention to Northeastern Thai society and its effects on Lao citizens’ cultural and political imagination and sense of membership to the state; in a word, on their deterritorialized citizenship. Studies of idea and sense of citizenship among migrants add yet another dimension to the concept, i.e. a transnational feature that splits the link between citizenship and territoriality, deepening feelings of belonging or freeing one’s mind to freshly assess one’s sentiments towards citizenship. More broadly, social scientists have argued that expanding and accelerating migrations across national borders have complicated the association between citizenship, nation-states, belonging, rights, and duties. The study of transnationalism has opened up the issue of how citizenship may be shaped from abroad by expatriates seeking to remake their homelands.

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