This seminar presents that Thai Yunnanese transnational entrepreneurs possess multiple identities in interstitial and relational contexts through everyday practice and performance. Set with a marginalized stigmatized background, these Yunnanese descendants with Thai citizenship have attempted various strategies to reconstruct their identity: business aestheticization, professionalism and socialization; identifying with Taiwanese; accentuating Thai identity; distinguishing Thai Yunnanese identity; translocalizing PRC Yunnanese identity; and transnationalizing Chinese identity. Through these aspects, this seminar demonstrates how the Thai Yunnanese transnational entrepreneurs have ingeniously adopted polychotomisation and multi-complementarisation in their assertion of multiple identities to gain diverse positive outcomes. Critically, the findings presented in this seminar are seeking to contribute to the understanding of ethnic identities through the lens of an oft-neglected group – Thai Yunnanese – in the nexus of transnationalism, entrepreneurship, and other cultural markers. Finally, the approach in this research departs from the debilitating nature of assimilation explanation and dualistic perspective in articulating the remaking of a new wave of entrepreneurs that has gone beyond the narrow definition of utilizing common background and migrant experience in identity construction.
Kian Cheng LEE, a Singaporean, holds a Ph.D. (Social Sciences), M.A. (Southeast Asian Studies), M.Th. (Asian Christianity), M.Div., M.A. (Biblical Studies) and B.Sc. (Physics). He is Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Political Science and Public Administration while being affiliated with the School of Public Policy and Faculty of Social Sciences at Chiang Mai University. He is also a member of the board of the Asian Pastoral Institute Ltd. in Singapore. Kian Cheng’s research interests concern Belt and Road Initiative, Chinese business practices, transnational entrepreneurship, politics, cultural and citizen diplomacy, and Thai religious networks. He can be contacted at [email protected].