Migrant Encounters examines what happens when migrants across Asia encounter both the restrictions and opportunities presented by state actors and policies, some that leave deep marks on migrants' own life trajectories and others that produce fragmentary, uneven traces. With a focus on those who migrate to perform intimate labor—domestic, care, and sex work—or whose own intimate and familial lives are redefined through migration, marriage, and sometimes parenthood, this volume argues that such encounters transform both migrants and the states between which they move.
Written by an international group of anthropologists, sociologists, and geographers, these essays offer richly detailed and insightful accounts of the intimate consequences of migration and the transformative effects of migrant-state encounters across Asia. Addressing a range of topics from the fate of children born to unmarried migrant mothers to the everyday negotiations of cross-border couples and migrant domestic workers, the contributors situate themselves at various points along the extensive migration routes that extend from northeast Asia all the way to the Gulf region. The authors draw on ethnographic research and policy analysis to illustrate the texture of migrants' interactions with state actors and forces. From a range of perspectives, they explore what these encounters teach us about migrant agency and the workings of state power in a region now rife with diverse forms of cross-border mobility.
Contributors: Heng Leng Chee, Nicole Constable, Sara L. Friedman, Hsiao-Chuan Hsia, Mark Johnson, Hyun Mee Kim, Pardis Mahdavi, Filippo Osella, Nobue Suzuki, Christoph Wilcke, Brenda S. A. Yeoh.
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Sara L. Friedman and Pardis Mahdavi
"I never thought being an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) would be like this; I always imagined it would be, I don't know, maybe more nice, less painful," recalled Benita, a young woman from Cavite, Philippines, who migrated to Dubai through informal channels in 2007 to work as a nanny. Faced with an abusive employer who failed to pay her wages, uncertain of her visa status, and desperate to earn money to support her family, Benita ran away from her employer a mere four months after arriving in Dubai and found work as a hostess in an underground bar, occasionally engaging in sex work on the side. Benita's migration path skirted the boundaries of legally sanctioned routes and ultimately led her to informal employment in entertainment and sex work. Her migration trajectory was shaped by sending and receiving government policies, the interests of diverse state actors and employers, and her own migration needs and desires.
This volume examines what happens when migrants such as Benita encounter both the restrictions and opportunities presented by state actors and policies, some of which leave deep marks on migrants' own life paths and others which produce fragmentary, uneven traces. Our authors argue that such encounters transform both migrants themselves and the various states they move among, although often in unpredictable ways. These transformations may generate new forms of agency and subjectivity for migrants, as well as new state policies and governing capacities designed to manage increasing migratory flows or to respond to international human rights pressures. Viewing these encounters as productive processes, the chapters to follow document migrants' creative responses to government regulations and the often contradictory ways these responses may be integrated into evolving migration regimes.
Our authors organize their discussions around two analytic frames. The first addresses how migratory labor across Asia has transformed intimate relationships and the provision of care through explicitly racialized, gendered, and sexualized framings of cross-border mobility. Some authors ask how migration produces new modes of intimacy and sexual expression both at home and abroad, while others utilize the framework of "intimate labor" (Boris and Parreñas 2010) to interrogate how migrants are deemed suitable to perform devalued labors of care and intimacy that support domains of life otherwise identified as critical to the health and welfare of national populations: family, sexuality, and reproduction in its broadest sense. Adopting Viviana Zelizer's (2005) "connected lives" approach, the authors trace the interconnections between social and economic mobility and the lives of both migrants and those with whom they work and form families. Assuming that intimacy is understood and enacted through culturally and socially specific values, relationships, and practices, we ask how cross-border intimate labor transforms care, bodily contact, affect, desire, and morality. Both in their explicitly commodified roles as domestic workers, nannies, and sex workers and as wives and mothers, migrants reconfigure the meaning of intimate engagements and the embodied forms through which intimacy is expressed. Put simply, migrant intimacies create new possibilities for interpersonal relationships, sexual desires, and gendered domesticity. At the same time, these cross-border intimacies provoke new modes of state power as governments struggle to regulate the intimate lives of migrants and citizens alike (Boehm 2012).
The second analytical lens utilized by our authors focuses on encounters between migrants and the state across Asia specifically. In her recent study of "cosmopolitan sex workers," Christine Chin describes global circuits and syndicates across Asia through which flexible citizens and capital flow from one cosmopolitan capital to another. Chin argues, and we agree, that these "cosmopolitan/global circuits," which include megacities such as Hong Kong, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, and Dubai, have become migratory destinations for the elite and those who serve them (Chin 2013). Throughout this volume, we focus on Asia as a series of emerging cosmopolitan locales that play host to an ever-moving turnstile of migrants of varying backgrounds. As their populations expand to encapsulate "global talent," these countries necessarily must adapt to the changing demographics of their cityscapes.
Situating themselves at various points along the extensive migration routes that extend from northeast Asia all the way to the Gulf region, our authors draw on ethnographic research and policy analysis to illustrate the detailed texture of migrants' interactions with state actors and forces. Beginning from different perspectives, they ask what these encounters teach us about migrant agency and the workings of state power in a region now rife with diverse forms of cross-border mobility: for instance, when returned working-class migrants in Kerala confront state and upper class/caste discourses about failed migrant social reproduction and sexual immorality, when single Filipina migrant mothers in Japan go to court to claim citizenship for their mixed-heritage children, or when a foreign domestic worker in Singapore struggles with a bureaucracy intent on preventing her from switching her status to that of wife of a citizen. Precisely because many intra-Asian migration trajectories involve the work of intimacy in some form, they provide a valuable starting point for analyzing new modes of gendered and racialized intimacy emerging through cross-border mobility and the diverse forms of state power that both shape and respond to these intimate practices.
Taken as a whole, this volume brings these two foci together to illustrate the productive and at times perverse dance engaged in by migrants and state actors as they move in and out of various intimate settings and relationships across Asia. Although states strive to fix migrants in specific categories, migrants challenge those very goals of fixity and singularity as they shift between roles and among spheres of caretaking, sexual, and emotional labor with their inherently flexible boundaries. The fluidity of state-migrant encounters generates an array of figures who populate the interstices of national societies and who undermine state efforts to define clear parameters of legality and legitimacy: for instance, runaway domestic workers, commodified migrant wives, transgressive sex workers, unmarried mothers, and children of uncertain parentage. Our authors follow these figures through cycles of interaction with state actors, citizens, migrant networks, and home communities to show how intimate labor migrations produce unpredictable policy consequences, new modes of intimacy, and alternative frameworks for assessing migrants' claims to presence, rights, and citizenship.
Encountering the State
When Benita first sought overseas employment in 2007, she faced multiple restrictions and delays imposed by protectionist policies recently implemented by the government of the Philippines. Economic pressures to support her family forced Benita to seek out an alternative route that led to her vulnerable migration status in Dubai. After fleeing her abusive employer and working in the informal entertainment sector for several years, Benita was able to return home in 2012 during a state-mandated period of amnesty in Dubai for all migrants without working papers. She had been waiting for her chance, talking informally with employees of the Philippines embassy who frequented the bar where she worked each evening, and planning her return home. With their help and the amnesty period, Benita was reunited with her family and brought home enough money to build a house for her mother and daughters.
Benita's experiences attest to the complex faces and roles of the different bureaucracies and state actors encountered by migrants as they plan cross-border journeys and move in search of opportunity. Some state actors and policies may create obstacles to migration or thwart the resolution of migration-induced conflicts or abuses; others may facilitate overseas employment and cross-border family formation or offer solutions that resolve dilemmas produced by inflexible immigration and citizenship policies. State regulation of migration and labor is enacted through a vast apparatus of laws and policies that includes bilateral agreements, labor and broker policies, and governmental mandates. The institutional presence of the state is brought to life through diverse human faces, such as police, embassy workers, border officers, immigration service providers, health officials, and labor inspectors. Migrants and immigrants encounter state power in both human and institutional forms as they meet face-to-face with state actors and navigate the restrictions and opportunities created by immigration policy regimes.
The rapid growth of migratory flows across Asia has forced states to develop new governing capacities and institutions. Together with the expansion of state apparatuses for border control, immigration regulation, and migrant policing we also see the development of migrant-oriented health and welfare services, training programs, and educational initiatives. These simultaneously disciplining and generative forms of state power create new statuses for migrants and citizens alike. Newly constructed power relations entwine state actors and institutions in the transformative projects engendered by contemporary migration trends, producing often contradictory effects as those actors struggle to shape migration flows to meet nation-specific needs (Silvey 2007).
As the authors in this volume analyze the various forms of state power invoked and produced by policies and institutions, they pause to evaluate how these formal visions of the state differ from migrants' own encounters with different state actors and bureaucracies. Read together, the chapters move across the perspectives of migrants, citizens, and state actors to map the various images of the state created by state-migrant encounters in both sending and receiving countries. Some chapters focus on the publicly projected face of the state, while others interrogate what migrants, citizens, or the authors expect state responsibilities to be.
Three possible visions of the state emerge through the ethnographic research that underpins this volume. The first is of the state as a regulatory entity invested in surveillance and control, as evident in border control mandates and the policing of populations when they cross borders to labor and reside abroad. The second is a neoliberal vision of the state as a facilitator of relationships between private actors in an effort to maximize national resources while diminishing governmental obligations: financial, legal, and infrastructural. One consequence of this neoliberal turn is the extension of "state effects" to nonstate actors who broaden the reach of state power by assuming governmental responsibilities and roles (Arextaga 2003; Trouillot 2001). The third, and perhaps most controversial, vision of the state is as both protector and regulator, wherein states enact policies (such as the one Benita faced in the Philippines) that are meant to protect their populations but that often have deleterious effects on migrant safety and well-being. Migrants encounter these different modes of state power in their everyday lives and may experience them simultaneously.
From the perspective of migrants and immigrants, policies implemented by governments across the region frequently produce powerful debilitating effects: they increase the financial and life-threatening costs of migration and they enable states to create new statuses for migrants that deprive them of rights and claims to presence once they move across borders (Anderson, Sharma, and Wright 2009; De Genova 2002; Luibhéid 2013). Less well understood, however, are the consequences of this productive power for migrant subjectivities and intimate relationships, as well as for state governing capacities. This volume interrogates how these simultaneously disciplining and generative engagements transform migrants, citizens, and state actors and institutions in ways both subtle and overt.
Immigration policies cultivate particular orientations among state actors toward migratory flows in general and toward specific kinds of migrants in their midst. Policymakers and bureaucrats are not all-powerful actors, however, who enjoy a comprehensive grasp of migration patterns and trends. They struggle to respond both to events on the ground and to international policy pressures. Operating under conditions of constant change and uncertainty, they strive to direct or restrict movements of people, address citizens' needs for care and support, and maximize state resources, all with an eye toward cultivating a national body that will be competitive in a globalizing economy. Certainly our point is not to absolve governments of responsibility for violence, exclusion, and the failure to protect citizens and migrants, but we caution against rushing too quickly to assume in all instances a smoothly oiled, disciplinary, and repressive governmental machine (Ong 2006). As Hsia argues in Chapter 7, states may respond proactively and reactively to migration flows, and those responses produce different consequences for migrants situated unevenly in policy interstices. This variability exposes gaps and contradictions in state policies that often heighten migrants' vulnerability to being rendered illegal, but these contradictions might also offer openings for movements dedicated to empowering migrants and asserting their claims to rights and recognition.
Cognizant of this potential for migrant activism, a recent body of migration scholarship seeks to understand migrants as subjects in their own right as opposed to merely objects of state control or employer discipline (Andrijasevic and Anderson 2009; Anderson, Sharma, and Wright 2009). Inspired by the sans papiers movement in France and the struggles of undocumented workers in the United States and Canada, this work recognizes migrants as collective political actors who make political claims that sometimes radically challenge the inequalities and exclusions produced by a state-based system of bordering practices. The chapters in this volume by Constable, Suzuki, and Hsia document the emergence of collective migrant subjectivities forged around struggles to claim identities as both migrant workers and family members and to secure the rights attendant to those diverse roles. Other chapters underscore more individualized forms of agency created through the intimate negotiations of cross-border couples or the tactical decisions made by migrant workers who seek greater mobility without the cost of denying existing family relationships or their own intimacy needs (see also Moukarbel 2009). Some migrants, in fact, create new subjectivities for themselves by utilizing resources unintentionally provided by the very migration regimes designed to limit their available identity categories and circumscribe their rights to presence and resources, such as the figure of the "freelancer" discussed by Johnson and Wilcke (Chapter 6).
Intimacy, Informality, Illegality
The intimate effects of new migratory flows often generate "moral panics" (Cohen 1972) in response to a commingling of bodies, affective relationships, and commodified exchanges that redefines how the work of family is performed or intimate bonds imagined. Changing gender and sexual norms move with migrants across borders, unsettling gendered roles "back home" and exposing the instability of national or class-specific family models in both sending and receiving societies (see Chapter 2). Simultaneously, stereotypes about migrant sexualities in destination countries inspire heightened policing of migrants' sexual behavior by authorities, employers, and migrant communities more generally. This policing is often justified in the name of protecting morality—that of both citizens and migrants—and as a needed response to the moral "threat" of human trafficking (Cheng 2010; Mahdavi 2011; Parreñas 2011). Yet in the interstices of this dominant policing environment, men and women may also draw on the freedoms enabled by migration to explore new sexual practices, intimate relationships, and alternative paths for mobilizing intimacy to achieve broader migration goals (see Chapters 2, 4, and 6; Mai and King 2009; Piper and Roces 2003; Pratt 2012).
Increasing state and societal regulation in the face of rapidly expanding forms of intimate labor migration raises ethical questions about how to define intimate life and guarantee individual and community rights to maintain those life forms without excessive state or employer intrusion. As migration becomes a way of life for many who lack access to gainful employment in their home countries, the issue of how to protect migrants' own intimate lives and care needs becomes more pressing. Sending countries such as the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and India now have multiple generations of migrants, and in China and Vietnam it is not uncommon for sisters, cousins, or mothers and daughters to migrate through cross-border marriages. As the sedimented effects of these migratory flows extend more deeply and widely through sending societies, how will they transform the intimate lives of intimate laborers themselves?
Migrants, as Benhabib and Resnick astutely note, are not "disembodied individuals (or by default men), but are adults or children traveling with or leaving family members behind" (2009:4). Therefore, migrants face competing demands on their time, labor, and emotional investments as they perform care work abroad while also remaining attuned to the diverse needs of children, spouses, and elders left behind in their home country (Parreñas 2005; Pratt 2012). Some struggle to reunite families dispersed across borders while others fight for the right to care for and legalize children born in or brought to a destination country (Bhabha 2009; Constable 2014; Friedman 2010; Luibhéid 2013; van Walsum 2009). As Mahdavi, Constable, and Suzuki document in their chapters, migrant women face often herculean obstacles—both legal and social—when they seek to legalize children borne or conceived abroad. Migrants' attempts to reconstitute their families inevitably bring them into contact with NGO activists and a variety of state and societal actors; these encounters reveal widespread contestation over who has the right to define the scope of legally recognized families, whether governments are obligated to support family reunification, and whose families count in the eyes of policy makers and activists. At stake here is migrants' ability to maintain their intimate bonds and care commitments across borders in ways that are both socially sanctioned and state supported (Parreñas 2005; Pratt 2012).
Closely attuned to the shifts in subjectivity engendered by cross-border intimate labor and family formation, this volume interrogates how migrants forge new subjectivities—adopting certain subject positions while rejecting others—in such contexts of confusing, ever-changing structural and legal pressures and constraints. By focusing on migratory settings defined by intimate labor and relationships, the volume shows how migrants turn to intimacy and their intimate lives as a platform from which to define and assert their rights (Giddens 1993). The sphere of the intimate, therefore, is not only shaped by structural forces; it simultaneously provides opportunities for renegotiating agency in relation to differing conditions of migration, employment, and family formation. Put another way, our authors probe the complex agency of migrants and their families by foregrounding experiences of love, care, companionship, and sexuality within analyses of the political economy of migration. Their attention to the intimate nature of the choices migrants make underscores the importance of subjectivity in both kinship and migration studies (Constable 2009; Mai and King 2009).
As is now well documented, the family is simultaneously a site of pleasure, intimacy, exploration, oppression, and inequality (Padilla et al. 2008: xv). Movement across borders for extended periods of time heightens migrants' sensitivity to the complexities of family ties, especially as they negotiate their own needs and desires in relation to policy demands and restrictions (Pratt 2012). Scholars of migration in European and North American contexts have elucidated the powerful role of patriarchal values in defining immigration policies that devalue care work, discipline employer-migrant worker relations, and restrict migrants' access to formal and informal membership in the nation. This patriarchal orientation is all the more contradictory given claims that such values no longer influence civil law or domestic relations among citizens (van Walsum and Spijkerboer 2007). The authors in this volume illustrate how intra-Asian migration flows have sparked policies that mobilize patriarchal (and often patrilineal) norms to discipline migrants and to narrow the scope of legitimate immigration claims. At the same time, they also speak eloquently about the many ways that migrants and immigrants actively redefine their own understandings of desirable and socially recognized familial roles: what it means to be a good spouse or parent, how one enacts care responsibilities across long distances, and how one creates new models of respectable intimacy in contexts of heightened policing and changing behavioral markers of morality and authenticity.
If immigration policy has become the primary means of legal exclusion in liberal democracies, then migrants' vulnerabilities before the law derive in many ways from their status as noncitizens who lack the protections and benefits that ostensibly accrue to juridical belonging (Bhabha 2010; Chin 2013; Pratt 2012). Feminist scholars have redefined the substance of citizenship through attention to the social, economic, and emotional claims that substantiate membership and that police the gendered boundaries between rights-bearing and rights-denied subjects. The absence of substantive citizenship rights (such as the right to support oneself and one's family in the home country) may strip juridical citizenship of its meaningful qualities, in effect creating what Linda Kerber terms conditions of "essential statelessness" for "those trapped jobless in the underworld of the globalized marketplace" (2009:104). In contexts where immigration laws tie migrants' legal status to an employer or spouse, the act of fleeing an abusive employment or marital relationship renders a migrant worker or immigrant spouse "illegal," unable to exercise rights to move across borders, within economic sectors, or to nonabusive domestic settings.
Many of the migrants whose experiences are analyzed in this volume operate in gray areas along an ever-shifting continuum of legal/illegal, licit/illicit, and formal/informal economies and statuses. Illegality is not a quality that adheres to human beings as a defining feature of their humanness; instead, it is a status produced by states and immigration policies through efforts to circumscribe the scope of the rights-bearing subject (Anderson, Sharma, and Wright 2009; De Genova 2002; Luibhéid 2013). As Garcés-Mascareñas astutely argues, illegality must be explained "from within . . . the context of immigration policy itself and the contradictions besetting the nation-state with regard to labour demands" (2010:83). By deploying intimacy as an overarching framework for analyzing migrations across Asia, this volume broadens Garcés-Mascareñas' formulation to show how illegality is produced across a broad swath of intimate and care-based labors, those that are openly remunerated (as in the case of domestic and sex workers) and those framed by the noncommodified rhetoric of familial obligation and intimacy. Immigration policies, as Bridget Anderson (2009) notes, produce particular kinds of people by molding them into migrants, workers, and familial dependents: these molds, we suggest, also shape the forms of illegality that are made to attach to those statuses through the effects of immigration policies.
Illegality may emerge from the barriers erected by migration categories (such as the distinction between worker and wife or the legal incompatibility of worker and mother), from the ways these categories interact with temporal restrictions designed to limit migrants' presence in and impact on the host society, and from long-standing relationships of mutual dependence between legal/licit economies and illicit or informal sectors. Our authors demonstrate in fine detail how the realm of the illicit is produced and bolstered by formal laws, legal categories, and migration paradigms, with particular attention to the historical and national specificities of how migrant illegality is constructed. If illegality is a mirror image of legality in a given time and place (Garcés-Mascareñas 2010), then its defining features and contours will be shaped by the immigration regimes specific to particular nation-states and international norms in that historical moment (De Genova 2002:424). At the same time, however, intra-Asian migrations also display some shared trends with respect to how illegality is produced across the region, including its terms and configurations, and the consequences it generates for migrants forced to live within the "confine of legality" (De Genova and Peutz 2010; Garcés-Mascareñas 2010; Willen 2007).
By bringing together labor migration and marital migration, the volume adds to this discussion a nuanced assessment of how illegality is produced by state investments in limiting what we call "migration pathway switching," especially with regard to the fluidity of relationships and practices of intimate life. Not only do migrants move between formal and informal sectors of the economy, but some also seek to switch their status from temporary foreign worker to permanent spouse of a citizen with rights to residency and ultimately citizenship. The "wife or worker" and "mother or worker" paradigms interrogated in the chapters by Kim, Mahdavi, Constable, Hsia, Yeoh and Chee, and Friedman demonstrate state desires to fix migrants in a single status and restrict access to employment and residency rights. A migrant domestic worker on a temporary visa may become illegal by becoming pregnant or marrying a citizen, acts that establish claims to permanency and belonging rendered illegitimate by her original migration status. Conversely, migrants who enter as or who become wives find their desire or need to engage in paid employment foreclosed by policies that define them as family dependents: their legal status is tied to nonremunerated, reproductive labor in the domestic sphere. The flexibility of these categories across domestic and public spaces and relationships shows how state-produced illegality is also shaped by particular expectations for migrant intimacy and domesticity, requiring migrants to maneuver skillfully around the margins of legally recognized and socially condoned intimate practices. As we analyze the various forms of disenfranchisement experienced by migrants and their children who are made illegal by state practices, we also remain alert to new modes of intimate life produced by those struggling to get by in gray zones defined by the unstable intersection of migration policies with intimate labors.
Since the 1970s, women and men have migrated with greater frequency within Asia as they move among major migration sending and receiving countries. Countries across the region are grappling with powerful economic changes that have produced booming economies in some areas and severe poverty in others. The 1970s oil boom in the Gulf increased demand for migrant workers overnight as the wealth of countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain soared. Similarly, Japan and the newly industrialized countries of South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore experienced labor shortages in the wake of rapid industrialization, subsequent economic growth, and declining fertility. By contrast, Asia also is home to some of the world's poorest countries, such as Nepal and Bangladesh, and those struggling with economic inequality and political transitions that make outmigration a desirable option for many, as in Indonesia, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
These material disparities are coupled with radically divergent population trends across the region: Asia includes countries with the world's lowest birth rates and those with the largest populations, and education levels for both men and women have soared in some places but stagnated in others. The convergence of these disparate economic, social, and demographic trends has generated richly varied forms of migration and immigration, the preponderance of which involve some type of domestic or care work, sex work, or marriage. Wealthier parts of the Asian region increasingly depend on migrants to perform these diverse forms of intimate labor, and even countries not typically considered among the wealthiest, such as Malaysia, import migrant domestic and care workers. As a consequence, poorer countries face their own "care deficit" as growing numbers of women migrate abroad (Ehrenreich and Hochschild 2002; Parreñas 2001, 2008). These intimate labor migrations require new efforts to understand cross-border movement, intimate life, family relations, and gendered labor in highly mobile Asian settings.
Despite dramatic economic and demographic diversity across the region, migration and border-control regimes serve common purposes as responses to citizen demands for basic livelihood needs and welfare systems. Some sending countries, such as Indonesia and the Philippines, are highly dependent on remittances and rely on labor export to meet the employment needs of their citizens (Rodriguez 2010; Silvey 2007). For these governments, protecting migrants' rights is secondary to promoting their nationals for overseas employment. However, these states also may succumb to international pressures to combat human trafficking by instituting protective policies that make their citizens less competitive on the international market and thereby encourage irregular migration routes. By contrast, receiving countries—such as the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong—are invested in importing temporary workers and, in some cases, immigrant wives, to meet pressing care work demands created by growing economies, demographic shifts, and gaps in public welfare services; as a result, they are more likely to favor the interests of citizen-employers and spouses and turn a blind eye to exploitation or abuse. As several authors highlight, states across the region have increasingly failed to meet the needs of their citizens, not only by promoting and protecting their rights as workers abroad, but also by maintaining welfare regimes that would assist in the provision of care or alleviate citizens' dependence on overseas employment to support such care.
Of course, migration across Asia is by no means a new phenomenon. There is a long history of population flows from China to Southeast Asia, from Korea to Japan, and from the Indian subcontinent to Southeast Asia and to other British colonies that stretched across the Gulf region and the Middle East. However, nineteenth- and early twentieth-century migrants were primarily men who labored as coolies in plantation economies or as domestic servants, only some of whom escaped the penury of hard labor by becoming traders, small-scale merchants, or, for the rare few, successful entrepreneurs. The costs and time involved in these migrations meant that they were rarely circular: although men regularly sent money back to families in their home country, visits were much less frequent, and some migrants ultimately established new families and households in their places of residence. These migratory patterns had cumulative effects that not only consolidated trade routes across land and sea, but also created important foundations for later postcolonial state formations throughout the region.
Although interregional mobility continues to dominate contemporary migration flows, the kinds of jobs migrants perform have taken on a different face. The 1970s oil-fueled construction boom in the Gulf region brought millions of mostly male migrants from countries as diverse as India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Korea, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka to labor on infrastructure and construction projects. Due to rapid declines in the building sector temporarily after 1985 and more recently as a result of the 2008 financial crisis, the stereotypical male migrant has gradually been replaced by a more feminized migrant labor force. Women from Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Nepal, and the Philippines have migrated in growing numbers to the Gulf to work as domestic workers, nurses, sex workers, and other service personnel (Castles and Miller 2008:ch. 6).
This feminization of intra-Asian migration has emerged in South, Southeast, and East Asia as well. The late 1980s and early 1990s witnessed a rising demand for private caregivers to meet child- and elder-care needs as local women moved into the paid labor force in growing numbers. Singapore, Malaysia, India, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan responded by opening their doors to temporary labor migrants employed in domestic and care work, service and entertainment sectors, and as assembly line workers in light industries (Cheng 2010; Constable 2007; Lan 2006; Parreñas 2011; Shah 2014). In some sending countries, such as the Philippines, the number of female migrants has come to equal or exceed that of their male counterparts, a sign of the expanding market for intimate laborers. In 2010, the category of domestic helper accounted for 51 percent of all new hires among female migrants from the Philippines. Moreover, 95 percent of those domestic workers were destined for countries within Asia, with Hong Kong and Kuwait as the top two destinations for Filipinas (Philippine Overseas Deployment Administration 2010). Cross-border migration within Asia is not only, as demographer Graeme Hugo argues, "very definitely a gendered process" (2005:17); it is also a process through which gendered labors are made legible through racial and national hierarchies.
Migratory hierarchies of gender, race, and nationality also shape the growing flows of women migrating for marriage across the region (Clark 2001; Constable 2005; Faier 2009; Freeman 2011; Jongwilaiwan and Thompson 2011; Newendorp 2008; Piper and Roces 2003; Suzuki 2000). Beginning in the 1980s, cross-border marriages paired Chinese wives with Korean, Taiwanese, Hong Kong, and Japanese husbands. Women from Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia have begun to marry men from Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore. Indian men may look for brides in Bangladesh, and some Chinese men are seeking wives from bordering countries such as Vietnam, Laos, and Burma. Although many of these husbands live in rural areas or are members of the urban working classes and thus are viewed as less desirable spouses by local women, others hail from the middle classes and white-collar sectors. Some men may be seeking more "traditional" brides to perform care work for elderly family members or young children from previous marriages—an example of how migrant women traverse spheres of intimate labor—whereas others may be disillusioned with female conationals following a divorce or failed romance. Women, too, have complex reasons for choosing an international marriage: many seek adventure and new life opportunities, others look for a fresh start after a previous marriage or romance, and still others feel obligated to support their birth families and seek access to more lucrative employment possibilities (Constable 2005; Kim 2010).
As cross-border marriages constitute a growing proportion of new marital unions in many parts of Asia, they combine with other forms of intimate labor migration to produce new configurations of racialized and classed femininity and masculinity across the region. The shared features of intimacy, domesticity, and care work that define contemporary intra-Asian migration flows both affirm existing gender hierarchies and qualities and foster emergent subjectivities that rework those gender norms through new experiences and intimate attachments. These contradictory processes force men and women to navigate a fraught moral terrain at home and abroad as previously unquestioned (or, at the very least, dominant) understandings of gendered family roles and sexual morals are challenged by cross-border flows. Although most of the literature on gender and migration has focused on the consequences of migration for women and heterosexual femininity, we also call attention to new modes of masculinity produced by migration experiences and relationships with migrants and to the diverse gendered performances of intimacy and desire enabled by migratory mobility (see Chapters 1, 2, 5, and 8; Fajardo 2008).
Outline of the Volume
The volume uses three foci to address the multiple effects of and conflicts produced by migrant-state encounters. Part I, The Intimate Lives of Intimate Laborers, examines the disruption and reconstitution of migrants' own intimate lives and relationships through cycles of migration and return that generate national and local discourses about migrant morality and value. Hyun Mee Kim's chapter explores how cross-border couples in South Korea respond to state policies promoting a commodified vision of the new multicultural family by redefining marital intimacy so that it satisfies both migrant wives' remittance desires and citizen-husbands' reproductive imperatives. Filippo Osella then offers a sensitive critique of a pervasive public discourse of moral panic articulated in response to decades of migration from Kerala in south India to the Gulf, showing how this middle-class discourse focuses on the "failed" efforts of working class Malayali migrants to achieve national bourgeois ideals of conjugal life and sexual morality.
In Part II, Migration and the National Family, the authors address how immigration and nationality laws aim to produce certain kinds of national families and the consequences of such legal regimes for reproductive migrants. This section examines how migrants, through their reproductive capacities and intimate choices, contest the statuses available to them in host societies and challenge the legal obstacles they and their children face to national inclusion. The opening chapter by Pardis Mahdavi analyzes how migrants to the Persian Gulf countries are rendered illegal by becoming mothers and how their children may, in turn, become stateless as a consequence of those countries' restrictive nationality and citizenship laws. Nicole Constable follows the strategies of foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong who, when they become pregnant, turn to the protections offered under international asylum and torture protocols and file claims that enable them to extend their legal status in Hong Kong temporarily but ultimately prohibit them from working and fail to resolve pressing dilemmas regarding family recognition and legal residence. In Japan, as Nobue Suzuki documents, successful legal challenges by migrant workers-turned-mothers have revised strict citizenship laws to make children with Japanese fathers eligible for naturalized citizenship. These legal victories, however, have created new obstacles to substantive citizenship rights for these young adults as they struggle to create a recognized existence for themselves on the margins of family and nation.
Part III, Negotiating the State, offers an in-depth look at how migrants respond creatively to conditions of illegality and irregularity produced by laws and policies that aim to distinguish among categories of intimate laborers and grant them different rights and statuses. The chapter by Mark Johnson and Christoph Wilcke examines the generative and gendered effects of state disciplinary power by documenting, first, how Arab countries in the Gulf and Middle East deploy a gendered concept of privacy to justify restrictive systems of migrant domestic worker employment, and second, how those disciplinary systems produce as their corollary irregular migrant domestic labor embodied by the figure of the "freelancer." Hsiao-chuan Hsia's chapter shows how migrant domestic workers and marriage migrants in Taiwan face an elaborate, ever-changing regulatory regime that produces a broad web of migrant illegality condoned by the state precisely because it reduces the costs of production and reproduction and fosters national competitiveness in a global economy. Brenda Yeoh and Heng Leng Chee argue that the Singaporean government's strict distinctions between migrant wives and domestic workers also generate new forms of illegality as migrant domestic workers marry Singaporean men and migrant wives enter the workforce, both scenarios rendering migrant women illegal despite the policies designed to present this kind of "migration pathway switching." Sara Friedman's chapter concludes the section by asking how cross-border marriages between Chinese and Taiwanese are evaluated by Taiwanese bureaucrats through authenticity paradigms that not only fail to capture the complexities of transnational intimacies but may, as a consequence, encourage immigrants to pursue legal status through strategies that resemble "illegal" or "inauthentic" practices.
By tracing the movements of intimate laborers across borders, this volume shows both how migrants maneuver within restrictive immigration policies and how states may produce the very kinds of migrant irregularity they aim to prevent, often through the unintended effects of their own regulatory practices. Through careful attention to movement between and across diverse forms of intimate labor, our authors also demonstrate how migration experiences challenge the paradigms used to distinguish among categories of migrants and migrant labor and question the effectiveness of policies designed around these paradigms, revealing in turn how state projects may unfold in ways that fail to capture the complexity of migrants' experiences and desires. We aim collectively to recognize the creative strategies of migrants across Asia as part of envisioning new futures that respect the intimate lives of migrants and citizens alike.
Table of Contents
Introduction. Migrant Encounters
—Sara L. Friedman and Pardis Mahdavi
PART I. THE INTIMATE LIVES OF INTIMATE LABORERS
Chapter 1. Intimacies and Remittances: The Material Bases for Love and Intimate Labor Between Korean Men and Their Foreign Spouses in South Korea
—Hyun Mee Kim
Chapter 2. Migration and the (Im)morality of Everyday Life
PART II. MIGRATION AND THE NATIONAL FAMILY
Chapter 3. Children of the Emir: Perverse Integration and Incorporation in the Gulf
Chapter 4. Temporary Shelter in the Shadows: Migrant Mothers and Torture Claims in Hong Kong
Chapter 5. Troubling Jus Sanguinis: The State, Law, and Citizenships of Japanese-Filipino Youth in Japan
PART III. NEGOTIATING THE STATE
Chapter 6. Caged in and Breaking Loose: Intimate Labor, the State, and Migrant Domestic Workers in Saudi Arabia and Other Arab Countries
—Mark Johnson and Christoph Wilcke
Chapter 7. Reproduction Crisis, Illegality, and Migrant Women Under Capitalist Globalization: The Case of Taiwan
Chapter 8. Migrant Wives, Migrant Workers, and the Negotiation of (Il)legality in Singapore
—Brenda S. A. Yeoh and Heng Leng Chee
Chapter 9. Regulating Cross-Border Intimacy: Authenticity Paradigms and the Specter of Illegality Among Chinese Marital Immigrants to Taiwan
—Sara L. Friedman
List of Contributors