Seeking ‘a right to belong’
A stateless Shan youth’s journey to citizenship in northern Thailand
in Statelessness, governance, and the problem of citizenship
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This chapter examines the journey of seeking legality and belonging of Muay (pseudonym), a 20-year-old stateless Shan youth who lives in northern Thailand. Muay dreams of becoming a nurse, but as a stateless person she is unable to take the licencing exam. Her desire to realise her professional dreams drove Muay finally to try to fix her citizenship status. Legally excluded from Thai citizenship, Muay sought the citizenship of Myanmar in order to be qualified as a migrant worker in Thailand, the country she calls home. This chapter follows Muay in her efforts to become a citizen of Myanmar and eventually a nurse in Thailand. Through Muay’s journey, it examines larger questions relating to the governance of Thai citizenship and the under-examined implications of documentary solution to statelessness. It interrogates, with Muay, the relationship between citizenship, nationality, documentation, and identity. Crucially, it also asks what belonging means in the age where it is made ‘real’ by documentation, and whether a stateless person like her can ever really call a place ‘home

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