Indonesian Domestic Workers and the (Un)making of Transnational Livelihoods and Provisional Futures
Yeoh, Brenda S.A.
Khoo, Choon Yen
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Doreen Massey (2005. For Space. London: Sage.) argued that space and time should not be reduced to a bounded locality of the 'here and now' and instead proposed re-imagining 'space as simultaneity of stories-so-far'. We build on her argument to suggest that an appreciation of migrant aspirations and future trajectories require us to go beyond simultaneous 'stories-so-far' but also consider 'stories-to-come' which may build upon, divert from, or even unmake the 'stories-so-far'. We apply these ideas to our study (based on a questionnaire survey and in-depth interviews) of the transnational journeys traced by Indonesian domestic workers employed in Singaporean middle-class homes. We argue that socially and culturally specific notions of risk can work to propel and sustain migration into retrogressive occupations like domestic work, as well as disrupt dominant narratives around migrants as strategic actors, necessarily in control of their trajectories and driven by their migration plans. The calculus of risk-taking and aspiration on which transnational livelihoods are predicated is one that takes into account both situatedness in and connectedness across different places (in short simultaneous 'stories-so-far'). At the same time, future 'stories-to-come' may entail both subtle shifts and constant (re)negotiations that propel individual life stories unto different pathways.
CitationYeoh, B.S.A.; Platt, M.; Khoo, .Y.; Lam, T. and Baey, G. (2017) 'Indonesian domestic workers and the (un)making of transnational livelihoods and provisional futures', Social & Cultural Geography, 18:3, 415-434, DOI: 10.1080/14649365.2016.1185800
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