Gender and Language, Vol 13, No 1 (2019)

‘The lines are blurred’: same-sex relationships and the local practice of sponsorship in Cambodia

Benedict J.L. Rowlett
Issued Date: 8 Apr 2019


This paper addresses recent calls in the field of sociolinguistics to engage more fully with the language of sexual transaction. In the case of this study, the focus is on transnational same-sex relationships, locally termed as 'sponsorship' arrangements, which are formed in the 'ethnosexual contact zones' of Siem Reap, a major tourist city in Cambodia. Utilising a positioning analysis of narrative accounts from local and non-local men, I will show how these relationships are discursively constructed across blurred lines between charitable support and sexual transaction. As such, I draw attention to the 'subjugated knowledges' that emerge from this analysis to inform the social practice of sponsorship as a local language practice. This is a local language practice that foregrounds the possibilities for action, made available through locally circulating discourses of opportunity, development and empowerment, along with the sexually agentic subject positions formed through engagement in Siem Reap's sexualised spaces.

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DOI: 10.1558/genl.32942


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