Special Talk: The Production of Precarity: Migratory Surveillance and Strategic Resistance in Hong Kong
Speaker: Professor Nicole Constable, Dept of Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh
Abstract: This talk presents a concrete example of how precarity is produced, experienced, and resisted in an Asian context. It provides a critical analysis of the connections between flows of people and capital, national pressures to modernize, and the precarity of women migrant workers, by examining new forms of governmental migratory surveillance. Why and how the new electronic passport system introduced as a pilot project by the Indonesian Consulate in Hong Kong in 2015, that was intended to protect migrant workers, has in practice created greater precarity for them. Justified by government officials in terms of care and control of migrant worker citizens, the e-passport policy reflects the Indonesian state’s desire to create “legibility” of its citizenry (James Scott). This talk offers an ethnographic examination of the new passport policy in practice, reveals how “caring policies” entail control, mixed motivations, and often contribute to the increased precarity rather than the protection of migrant workers. It reveals numerous social tensions and cultural misunderstandings concerning the politics and wider contradictions of care and control within the context of precarious migrations, governmentality and Asian flows of bodies and capital. It also illustrates the opportunities and openings for creative resistance among migrant worker activists.
Commentator: Wako Asato, Associate Professor, Graduate School of Letters, Kyoto University
Bio: Nicole Constable is a Professor of Anthropology and a Research Professor of International Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. She is former JY Pillay Professor of Social Sciences at Yale-NUS College, former Director of the Asian Studies Center and Dean of Graduate Studies and Research at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research has focused primarily on migration and mobilities; the commodification of intimacy; gender, sexuality and reproductive labor. She is the author of four monographs including, Maid to Order in Hong Kong: Stories of Migrant Workers and Romance on a Global Stage: Pen Pals, Virtual Ethnography, and Mail-Order Marriages. Her most recent book, Born Out of Place: Migrant Mothers and the Politics of International Labor is about Filipina and Indonesian migrant workers who become mothers in Hong Kong, and their legal and personal struggles in relation to work, family, citizenship and parenthood.
She recently published Born Out of Place: Migrant Mothers and the Politics of International Labor (University of California Press, April 2014), about Filipina and Indonesian migrant workers in Hong Kong who become mothers, and the legal and personal struggles they face regarding migrant work, intimate relationships, and parenthood.
Organizer: Mario Lopez (CSEAS), Ishii Sari (Rikkyo University)