Performing Land of Smiles: Dramatization as Research in Thailand’s Antitrafficking Movement

Erin M. Kamler


This article presents a study of how the writing, composing, and production of the feminist musical Land of Smiles productively exposed and troubled the normative discourses of Thailand’s antitrafficking movement. Engaging three sets of focus group participants—Western nongovernmental organization employees, female migrants from Burma, and Western and Thai artistic production staff members—I sought to understand how discourses around victimhood, rescue, and morality were transformed following a production of the musical in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I argue that the musical performance served as a site of intervention in these discourses, allowing participants to critically evaluate the roles they play in the antitrafficking movement. This intervention represents a new approach to feminist international research, which I call “dramatization as research.”


performance, Thailand, trafficking, feminist international research

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