'The lines are blurred': Same-sex relationships and the local practice of sponsorship in Cambodia

Benedict J. L. ROWLETT*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-47
Number of pages25
JournalGender and Language
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Philosophy
  • Linguistics and Language

User-Defined Keywords

  • Cambodia
  • Language as a local practice
  • Narrative analysis
  • Same-sex relationships
  • Sex work
  • Subjugated knowledges


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