How is Migrant Labour Changing Rural Southeast Asia?

Full panel title

How is Migrant Labour Changing Rural Southeast Asia? Translocality, Hybridity, and Emerging Categories


Oliver Tappe (University of Cologne)
Roy Huismans (International Institute of Social Studies)
Minh Nguyen (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology)

Date and time

Double session

12 August, 14:00 – 15:30
12 August, 16:00 – 17:30


Room 29


Session I

  • A Borderless Village at the Source of Unceasing Flow: Mobility and Belonging in Thawan Gaw Kraung, Kayin State, Myanmar
    Indre Balcaite (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London)
  • “We Are Just Peasants”- Performing Ruralness in Hanoi
    Lisa Barthelmes (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology)
  • Uncertain Wealth, Consumption and Productive Transformations in a Migrant Waste-Trading Community of the Red River Delta
    Minh Nguyen (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology)
  • Migration, Class and Gender: A Perspective from Two Southeast Asian Countries
    Maria Platt (National University of Singapore)

Session II

  • Surviving Dispossession, Producing Space: Burmese Migrants, Precarity and Social Ties in Thailand’s Border Economic Zones
    Adam Saltsman (Boston College)
  • Coolie Families: Colonial Labour Relations and Local Economies
    Oliver Tappe (University of Cologne)
  • Rural-Urban Migrants’ Remittances in Vietnam: A Re-Examination
    Hy V. Luong (University of Toronto)
  • Hybrid Lives: Cyclical Migration and Rural Transformations in Comal, Central Java, Indonesia
    Gerben Nooteboom (University of Amsterdam)

Panel abstract

As elsewhere, labour migration has become an institution in rural Southeast Asia, internalised in rural life through processes of translocal and multi-sited householding and labour mobility. In investigating the impacts of labour migration on rural life, much work has been done on changes to household organisation and economy, agricultural production and rural livelihoods, gender and intergenerational relations, and institutional frameworks. Research, however, has not paid much attention to the ways in which mobility has been engendering a great deal of hybridity in identity construction and how the boundaries of rurality and urbanity shift as people creatively craft their belonging and citizenship across places. This panel aims at exploring such identity processes arising from rural-urban migration – processes that entail category construction and emerging axes of social difference. In this panel, we are asking for empirical and theoretical contributions that examine labour migration and translocality in rural Southeast Asia with one or more of the following focuses:

  1. The dialectic relationship between place, belonging and mobility in identity processes
  2. The construction of rurality and urbanity in the context of accelerating urbanization and transforming rural landscapes
  3. The intersection of gender, class, and/or ethnicity in labour migration; or how labour mobility produces and shapes such categories on different socio-spatial scales
  4. Wealth accumulation and the relevance of remittances and temporary labour arrangements for socio-economic stratification
  5. Migrant labourers’ negotiation with issues of legal, social and cultural citizenship.