Where I Work
My primary fieldsite is Malaysia, where I conducted multisited ethnographic fieldwork in different states, from the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur to Kelantan in the northeastern coast of the peninsula, and Kedah on the northwestern coast. I wrapped up my doctoral fieldwork with a tranquil two months in a village in Negeri Sembilan, where I lived with a polygamous family.
My main site of research in Kota Bharu, Kelantan, was the Syariah Court: this was where I spent many months observing marriage registration, divorce, and inheritance cases; interviewing court officials, judges, and litigants; and reviewing case files from court archives. I also spent time in Kota Bharu’s bustling marketplace, Pasar Besar Siti Khadijah, where I had the pleasure of observing Kelantanese women’s legendary entrepreneurial spirit in action.
Southern Thailand has historically had strong connections to the Malay world; indeed, the great Kingdom of Pattani was Malay and Muslim. Today, the majority of the population of the southern provinces of Pattani, Narathiwat, Yala, Satun, and Songkhla are ethnically Malay, and practise Islam as their religion.
My fieldwork in Southern Thailand was, for security reasons, largely concentrated in the Songkhla Province, specifically in the cities and Hat Yai and Songkhla, situated on the coast of the South China Sea. I studied cross-border marriages that took place in the Central Mosque of Songkhla, and also followed the subsequent marriage registration process in the Malaysian Consulate in Songkhla.