Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: Creating 'kropkrua' in the kitchen: an ethnography of female Thai chefs in two London Thai restaurants
Authors: Ukris, Simana
Advisors: Hirsch, E
Kastrinou, M
Keywords: Thai migration in the UK;Nurture kinship
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Brunel University London
Abstract: This research explores the experience of Thai female immigrants who are working in the kitchens of Thaitime restaurant at both the Wandsworth and Wimbledon branches. Through analysis of the life stories of the chefs, it is clear that both economic and cultural factors are primary reasons for transnational migration. Isan is the birthplace of seventy percent of the chefs and the region is considered one of the poorest parts of Thailand, with low-income rates and high rates of out-migration. The chefs follow existing gendered role expectations by participating in transnational migration and sending remittances back to their parents. The chefs from Isan mostly immigrate via a spouse visa or work permit, while the chefs from central Thailand mostly start their journey with a student visa. As an ethnographic study, the primary tool of data collection has been through participant observation of the chefs’ working routines. These observations revealed that the kitchens have two parallel dynamics. On one hand, kitchens are operated in terms of commercial restaurant standards. On the other hand, they work in relation to Thai family structures, where chefs in higher positions tend to employ the idealistic stereotype of ‘mother’. This is accomplished by performing the maternal role of nurturing children through the act of cooking and feeding. Thaitime kitchens are one of the places where Thai social structures and cultural practices are exercised. However, when the chefs go into the world outside, they continue to limit themselves to places that hold cultural and emotional connections to their homeland. The majority of visits center around accommodations, the Thai temple, ethnic grocery shops, Thai massage shops, and the betting shops. The ethnography and narratives discussed in this research suggest that Thai female migrants cannot simply be stereotyped as dependent spouses. Rather, their lives are complex and include many different aspects apart from married life. The chefs also participate in the labor market and engage with London’s urban setting, constructing social relations, negotiating identities and situating themselves in the context of the United Kingdom.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the award of Master of Philosophy and was awarded by Brunel University London
Appears in Collections:Anthropology
Dept of Social and Political Sciences Theses

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
FulltextThesis.pdf1.38 MBAdobe PDFView/Open

Items in BURA are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.