Special Seminar on Empowering Women (ex)Prisoners with Tourism in Chiang Mai | 京都大学 東南アジア地域研究研究所


Special Seminar on Empowering Women (ex)Prisoners with Tourism in Chiang Mai

Speaker: Ploysri Porananond(Senior Research Fellow, Chiang Mai University; Visiting ILAS Lecturer) 
Venue: Tonantei, Inamori Memorial Building 2nd floor, north end
Date/Time: Wednesday March 18th, 2020, 12:00p.m.-1:30p.m

Title: Empowering Women with the Power of Tourism: Case of the Massage
Center by Female Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners in Chiang Mai, Thailand

female prisoner, ex-prisoner, massage, social stigma, tourism, commercialization

A person having served a sentence in prison often finds it difficult to
reintegrate into society. This is especially evident in the case of
female ex-prisoners where their gender is used against them. Additional
hurdles are unfairly imposed on them to prove that they have earned
their place in the community outside of prison. The social stigma
attached to them due to their criminal past gradually swallows their own
individuality to the point of becoming their new identity. The public
refuses to see them beyond their criminal past. Not only is the public
assumption against them, but the law is also hardly on their side.
Female ex-prisoners cannot own a business nor employed as public
servant. Their career options are limited to odd jobs or labor works
which barely pay the minimum wage. They could not earn an adequate
income for their household. These obstacles contribute to the high rate
of recidivism or aggravated crimes among female ex-prisoners.

Tourism has the power to break this cycle. The success of the Women’s
Massage Center by Ex-Prisoners in Chiang Mai has aptly demonstrated
this. It took advantage of the skilled ex-prisoners who were trained
during their incarceration and marketed their social stigma as a unique
brand to attract tourists to the massage center. In return, the female
ex-prisoners gain a stable employment and therefore slowly reintegrated
with social life as another citizen.

This presentation will demonstrate how tourism has the power to empower
female ex-prisoner’s identity and repackage it for the benefit of
tourism industry. At the same time, tourism has the power to provide
these female ex-prisoners with new career opportunities that previously
were not made available to them. However, the power of tourism is
limited inside the tourism industry, especially with foreign tourists.
The changes provided does not extend towards better acceptance from the
local community.

Short bio:
Ploysri Porananond is an exceptional researcher in tourism studies in
Thailand. At present, she is a senior research fellow at the Knowledge
and Innovation Center, College of Arts, Media and Technology, Chiang Mai
University. She is the founder of the Asian Journal of Tourism Research
(AJTR), the international journal in tourism research in Thailand. Her
interest focuses on the relation between tourism and culture in Thailand
and Her publications include “Modernity and Evolution of a Festive
Tourism Tradition: The Songkran Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand”
(2008), Rethinking Asian Tourism: Culture, Encounters and Local Response
(edited with Victor T. King) (2014), “Tourism and Political Agendas in
the Dum Hua Procession in the Songkran Festival” (2014), “Tourism and
the Transformation of Ritual Practice with Sand Pagoda in Chiang Mai,
Thailand” (2015), “Khun Tok Dinner: The Transformation of a Lanna Eating
Style into a Tourist Attraction in Chiang Mai, Thailand” (2015), Tourism
and Monarchy in Southeast Asia (edited with Victor T. King) (2016), “The
Monarch, the Elephant, and Tourism in Chiang Mai, Thailand” (2016).
“Tourist Demand and the Transformation of Kimono in Kyoto” (2019).

Inquiry: Yoko Hayami x7336 yhayami[at]cseas.kyoto-u.ac.jp