The Making and Unmaking of Precarious, Ideal Subjects - Migration Brokerage in the Global South
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The migration literature is often underpinned by the idea that migrants are either completely ‘free’ agents, individually choosing how best to achieve returns on their human capital and resources (Sjaastad 1962) or ‘agents of development’ for their home countries and regions (Turner and Kleist 2013). Conversely they are viewed as exploited slaves, being pushed into low-paid occupations and controlled by middlemen and employers. Unsurprisingly, in many close-knit societies a process as expensive and life-defining as migration is rarely undertaken as an individual act and is shaped by complex social interactions within kinship networks and beyond (Lindquist 2012). Brokerage is ever-present in migrant labour markets around the world, variously interpreted as occupying the ‘middle space’ between migrants and the state, helping migrants navigate complex immigration regimes (Lindquist, Xiang, and Yeoh 2012; McKeown 2012; Schapendonk 2017), acting as an extension of the state seeking to outsource border controls (Goh, Wee, and Yeoh 2017) and colluding with employers to cheapen and commoditise migrant labour (Guérin 2013; McCollum and Findlay 2018). It is increasingly recognised that an understanding of contemporary migration is not complete without an understanding of the mediating practices that facilitate and constrain it (Coe and Jordhus-Lier 2011; Cranston, Schapendonk, and Spaan 2018). This special issue investigates the role that migration brokers play in the subjectivation and precarisation of migrant men and women from marginalised classes and ethnicities in the Global South. It shows how these processes are critical for them to become a part of contemporary economic and political systems of international and internal labour circulation. It responds to the call of labour geographers for a deeper understanding of the ways in which diverse economic and social contexts result in complex forms of precarity (McDowell 2015) and adds to the evidence on the role of actors beyond the workplace in co-creating precarity (Buckley, McPhee, and Rogaly 2017).
CitationDeshingkar, P. (2019) The making and unmaking of precarious, ideal subjects – migration brokerage in the Global South, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 45:14,2638-2654, DOI: 10.1080/1369183X.2018.1528094
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