Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version

Spring 2016

Thesis Advisor

Brian Spooner


The failures of development efforts in underachieving countries bring into question the effectiveness of the structures and mechanisms that govern policymaking. Laos, in particular, is a small country located in Southeast Asia that has recently gained prominence in spheres of international development and the global marketplace. Since the mid-1980s, leaders of the state have implemented economic reform in hopes of achieving greater economic gain. Their efforts fall short, however, when many marginalized communities comprised of ethnic minorities fall deeper into poverty. In search of a better life, many made the decision to flee the country to escape their impoverishment. Those with experiences of transnational migration have consequently encountered a new time and space, generating unique desires and discontents. Those who remained in Laos have shaped their desires and discontents on the structures, policies, and reforms pursued by the government. Their time and space is embedded within the context of globalization. Examining the individual and personal experiences of Laotian-Americans and the Laotian population illuminate desirable qualities and characteristics of standards of living. This ultimately captures the value of cultural and social considerations in the grand scheme of development and reform.

Key terms: transnational migration, globalization, modernization, economic reform, communist takeover, anti communist, desire, discontent, American dream

Included in

Anthropology Commons



Date Posted: 08 June 2016


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