Migrations and New Mobilities in Southeast Asia

DATES: Friday–Saturday, April 27–28, 2018

LOCATION:180 Doe Library

SPONSORS: UC Berkeley Center for Southeast Asia Studies
UCLA Center for Southeast Asian Studies
Asian Institute, University of Toronto

The Center for Southeast Asia Studies at UC Berkeley and the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at UCLA form a consortium U.S. Department of Education Title VI National Resource Center for Southeast Asian Studies.

The Asian Institute at the University of Toronto is one of North America's leading centers of Asian research and teaching.

Conference chair: Prof. Nancy Lee Peluso (Environmental Science, Policy & Management, UC Berkeley)
Co-chair: Prof. Rachel Silvey (Geography, University of Toronto)



This conference proposes to look anew at issues concerning migration and Southeast Asia. Migrations have characterized Southeast Asian lives and livelihoods in different ways in different eras; they have affected work, settlement patterns, resource use, small and large investments, religion, and culture. Migrations have formed and changed the composition of Southeast Asian societies and given rise to complex cultural, social, environmental, and political problems and opportunities. Past and present, migrations have been both forced and voluntary: forced to make way for certain kinds of development; triggered by violence and war; but also intentional and, at times, pioneering: to change lives, secure new livelihoods, or explore new ecologies. Contributors to this conference will discuss continuities and changes in migration practices, patterns, and personnel, addressing a wide range of historical periods, disciplines, and themes.


Call for papers

The organizers seek submissions for the conference on such topics as:

  • labor migration and remittances;
  • resource extractions, claims, and trade;
  • shifting policies governing international movements of people, resources and capital; human rights issues raised by transnational migration;
  • transformations in urban and rural spaces brought by domestic and transnational migrants;
  • cultural changes and cultural productions associated with migrant, resource, and capital flows;
  • the ways that mobilities have changed or are changing gender, generational, racial, and cultural relations in families, communities, and across nations.

Abstracts (up to 500 words) should be sent to CSEAS at UC Berkeley (cseas@berkeley.edu) by Friday, January 19, 2018. Abstracts should include your name, affiliation and discipline and contact information (including e-mail address). The conference is open to all. Some travel funding is available for faculty and graduate students at UC and CSU campuses.



FRIDAY, APRIL 27 180 Doe Library

8:30 – 9:00 a.m. Registration

9:00 – 9:20 a.m. Welcome & Opening Remarks

Pheng Cheah, Professor of Rhetoric; Chair, Center for Southeast Asia Studies, UC Berkeley

Nancy Lee Peluso,, Henry J. Vaux Distinguished Professor of Forest Policy, College of Natural Resources; core faculty, Center for Southeast Asia Studies, UC Berkeley

Rachel Silvey, Professor of Geography; Richard Charles Lee Director, Asian Institute, University of Toronto

9:20 – 11:10 a.m. PANEL 1: Migrant Labor and the Law

Democracy and Indonesian Migrant Workers: Rising Political Salience and Contestation at Home and Abroad
Ann Marie Murphy, Seton Hall University

Development and Nation: The Evolution of Malaysian Immigration Laws
Oanh Nguyen, University of Minnesota

Absurd Journeys: The Costs of Becoming Legal
Maryann Bylander, Lewis & Clark College

Citizen, Refugee, Muslim?: A Preliminary Typology of Rohingya Migration and Membership Politics across Polities
Nabila Islam, McGill University

Chair & Discussant: Phuong Nguyen, CSU Monterey Bay

11:10 – 11:25 a.m. Break

11:25 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. PANEL 2: Repressive Labor and Forced Mobilities

Deportable Refugees, Transnationalism and Cambodian-Americans
Jennifer Zelnick, UC Irvine

From Sea to City: Migration and Social Wellbeing in Coastal Cambodia
Furqan Asif, University of Ottawa

Blood Bricks: Debt-bondage, Carceral Geographies and the (Im)mobile Lives of Brick-kiln Laborers in Cambodia
Katherine Brickell, Royal Holloway, University of London

Migration and Refuge in Central and East Java during the Violence of 1965-66
Siddharth Chandra, Michigan State University

Chair & Discussant: George Dutton, UCLA

1:15 – 2:00 p.m. Lunch Break

2:00 – 3:50 p.m. PANEL 3: Place-making and Networks

The Things They Carried (and Kept): Socialist Mobilities and Vietnamese Remittances from East Germany
Christina Schwenkel, UC Riverside

Urban Footprints: Migration, Place-making and the Politics of Presence in Hanoi, Vietnam
Timothy Karis, Western Oregon University

Tracing Mining Migration through Indonesia's National Gold Networks
Matt Libassi, UC Berkeley

Labor Migration and Agrarian Change in Indonesia’s Industrial Rural Landscapes
Lisa Kelley, University of Hawaii-Manoa (co-authored with Nancy Peluso, UC Berkeley; Kim Carlson, University of Hawaii-Manoa; and Suraya Afiff, University of Indonesia)

Chair & Discussant: Emily Hertzman, Asian Institute, University of Toronto

3:50 – 4:10 p.m. Break

4:10 – 6:00 p.m. PANEL 4: Imaginaries and Transformations of Home

Flexible Filipinas: Global Economic Restructuring, Gendered Labor Migration and the Feminization of Overseas Work in Contemporary Philippine Anglophone Literature
Alden Sajor Wood, UC Irvine

Art and the Rantau: Tracking Minangkabau Migration
Katherine Bruhn, UC Berkeley

Migration and Da'wa: Exploring the Nexus in the Pen Circle Forum
Monika Arnez, University of Passau

‘Kisah Sukses’: Stories of Indonesian Migrant Worker Returnees Living in Greater Jakarta
Kilim Park, University of British Columbia

Chair & Discussant: Sylvia Tiwon, UC Berkeley

6:15 – 7:15 p.m. KEYNOTE ADDRESS Challenges of Migrant Workers Protection in ASEAN
Anis Hidayah, Migrant Care (Indonesia)

180 Doe Library

9:30 – 10:00 a.m. Registration

10:00 – 11:55 a.m. PANEL 5: Brokering, Labor and Bodily Controls

The Policing of Female Marriage Migrants: Case Studies from Southeast Asia
Gwenola Ricordeau, CSU Chico

Unbound and Bound Spheres of Globalization: The Regional Pocket of Free Travel in Asia and Asymmetries in Global Mobility
Maria Cecilia Hwang, Rice University

Manufacturing Global Care Workers: Regimes of Labor Control in Indonesia's Transnational Migrant Industry
Andy Chang, UC Berkeley

The Ethnic H-Rê Experiences: Labor Migration from Vietnam to Malaysia and Return
Angie Ngoc Tran, CSU Monterey Bay

Chair & Discussant: Eric Pido, San Francisco State University

11:55 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. Lunch Break

Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall, Townsend Center for the Humanities

1:15 – 3:15 p.m. Plenary Panel 1 : Migration in Southeast Asia - Structural Shifts, Patterns and Continuities

Michele Ford, University of Sydney
Johan Lindquist, Stockholm University
Aihwa Ong, UC Berkeley
Brenda Yeoh, National University of Singapore
Moderator: Rachel Silvey, University of Toronto

3:30 – 5:30 p.m. Plenary Panel 2 : Political Ecology and Migration in Southeast Asia

Nicole Constable, University of Pittsburgh
Rebecca Elmhirst, University of Brighton
Deirdre McKay, Keele University
Christine Padoch, NY Botanical Garden
Moderator: Nancy Peluso, UC Berkeley

Download the CSEAS Conference Program here. (updated April 16, 2018)


Plenary Speakers

Nicole Constable, University of Pittsburgh

Nicole Constable is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh. She received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from UC Berkeley where her dissertation examined a Hakka Protestant community in Hong Kong, later explored in her book Christian Souls and Chinese Spirits: A Hakka Community in Hong Kong (UC Press, 1994). For the past decade, her research has focused on issues concerning migrant labor and migrant women workers in Hong Kong, particularly those arriving from the Philippines and Indonesia. Her books include Born Out of Place: Migrant Mothers and the Politics of International Labor (UC Press, 2014), Maid to Order in Hong Kong: Stories of Migrant Workers (Cornell University Press, 2007), a revised and updated edition of Maid to Order: Stories of Filipina Workers (Cornell University Press, 1997); and Romance on a Global Stage: Pen Pals, Virtual Ethnography, and “Mail Order” Marriages (UC Press, 2003). She is editor of Migrant Workers in Asia: Distant Divides, Intimate Connections (Routledge, 2010) and Cross-Border Marriages: Gender and Mobility in Transnational Asia (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005). Most recently, she contributed the article “Reproductive Labor at the Intersection of Three Intimate Industries: Domestic Work, Sex Tourism, and Adoption” to a special issue of positions 24:1 (2016) guest edited by Rhacel Parrenas, Hung Cam Thai and Rachel Silvey, and the article “Assemblages and affect: migrant mothers and the varieties of absent children” to a special issue of Global Networks 18:1 (2018).

Rebecca Elmhirst, University of Brighton

Rebecca Elmhirst is Reader in Human Geography and Deputy Head of Learning and Teaching in the School of Environment and Technology at the University of Brighton. She received her Ph.D. from Wye College, University of London, with a dissertation on transmigration in Indonesia. Her research interests focus on political ecology, gender and environmental change. Recent journal articles include “Displacement, Resettlement, and Multi-Local Livelihoods: Positioning Migrant Legitimacy in Lampung, Indonesia” in Critical Asian Studies 44:1 (2012), and “Gender and Generation in Engagements with Oil Palm in East Kalimantan, Indonesia: Insights from Feminist Political Ecology”, with Mia Siscawati, Bimbika Sijapati Basnett, and Dian Ekowati in Journal of Peasant Studies 44:6 (2017). She is co-editor, with Carl Middleton and Supang Chantavanich, of Living with Floods in a Mobile Southeast Asia: A Political Ecology of Vulnerability, Migration and Environmental Change (Routledge, 2017).

Michele Ford, University of Sydney

Michele Ford is Professor of Southeast Asia Studies at the University of Sydney, and Director of the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Wollongong. Her research focuses on labor movements and labor migration in Southeast Asia, specifically in Indonesia. She is the author of Workers and Intellectuals: NGOs, Trade Unions and the Indonesian Labour Movement (University of Hawai’i Press, 2009) and From Migrant to Worker: The Global Unions and Labor Migration in Asia (forthcoming, Cornell ILR Press). Along with many journal articles and book chapters, she is the editor of Social Activism in Southeast Asia (Routledge, 2015); co-editor, with Marian Baird and Elizabeth Hill, of Women, Work and Care in the Asia-Pacific (Routledge, 2017); co-editor, with Tom Pepinksy, of Beyond Oligarchy: Wealth, Power, and Contemporary Indonesian Politics (Cornell Southeast Asia Program, 2014); co-editor, with Lenore Lyons, of Men and Masculinities in Southeast Asia (Routledge, 2013); and co-editor, with Lenore Lyons and Willem van Schendel, of Labour Migration and Human Trafficking in Southeast Asia (Routledge, 2012). Prof. Ford is a Visiting Scholar with the Center for Southeast Asia Studies at UC Berkeley this semester.

Johan Lindquist, Stockholm University

Johan Lindquist is Professor of Social Anthropology and Director of the Forum for Asian Studies at Stockholm University. He received his Ph.D. from Stockholm University. His publications include The Anxieties of Mobility: Development and Migration in the Indonesian Borderlands (University of Hawai’i Press, 2009), which is based on his dissertation; and many articles and book chapters, including most recently “Reassembling Indonesian Migration: Biometric Technology and the Licensing of Informal Labour Brokers” in Ethnos (2018); “Of Figures and Types: Brokering Knowledge and Migration in Indonesia and Beyond” in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 21:S1 (2015), the chapter “Rescue, Return, In Place: Deportees, ‘Victims’, and the Regulation of Indonesian Migration” in Return: Nationalizing Transnational Mobility in Asia (Duke University Press, 2013) edited by Biao Xiang, Brenda Yeoh and Mika Toyota; and “The Elementary School Teacher, the Thug and his Grandmother: Informal Brokers and Transnational Migration from Indonesia” in Pacific Affairs 85:1 (2012). He is co-editor, with Joshua Barker and Eric Harms of Figures of Southeast Asia Modernity (University of Hawai’i Press, 2013).

Deirdre McKay, Keele University

Deirdre McKay is Senior Lecturer in Social Geography and Environmental Politics at Keele University in Staffordshire, England. She has a Ph.D. in Geography from the University of British Columbia. Her research in particular focuses on economic development, livelihoods and out migration in the Philippines. Her books include An Archipelago of Care: Filipino Migrants and Global Networks (Indiana University Press, 2016) and Global Filipinos: Migrants' Lives in the Virtual Village (Indiana University Press, 2012). Author or co-author of numerous book chapters and journal articles, she has most recently co-authored, with Katherine Gibson and Amanda Cahill, the chapter “Diverse Economies, Ecologies, and Ethics: Rethinking Rural Transformation in the Philippines” in Making Other Worlds Possible: Performing Diverse Economies (University of Minnesota Press, 2015), edited by Gerda Roelvink et al., and the journal article “Sent Home: Mapping the Absent Child into Migration through Polymedia” in a special issue of Global Networks 18:1 (2018).

Aihwa Ong, UC Berkeley

Aihwa Ong is Robert H. Lowie Distinguished Chair in Anthropology at UC Berkeley. She is also the Chair and Head Adviser for the Group in Asian Studies, an interdisciplinary undergraduate and graduate program at UC Berkeley. Her research interests cover a number of areas, including the role of science and technology in society, issues of neoliberalism and modernity, and the anthropology of citizenship. Her books include Fungible Life: Uncertainty in the Asian City of Life (Duke University Press, 2016), Neoliberalism as Exception: Mutations in Citizenship and Sovereignty (Duke University Press, 2006), Buddha Is Hiding: Refugees, Citizenship, the New America (UC Press, 2003), Flexible Citizenship: The Cultural Logics of Transnationality (Duke University Press, 1999), and Spirits of Resistance and Capitalist Discipline: Factory Women in Malaysia (SUNY Press, 1987). She is co-editor, with Ananya Roy, of Worlding Cities, or the Art of Being Global (Routledge, 2011); co-editor, with Nancy Chen, of Asian Biotech: Ethics and Communities of Fate (Duke University Press, 2010); co-editor, with Li Zhang, of Privatizing China: Socialism from Afar (Cornell University Press, 2008); and co-editor, with Michael Peletz, of Bewitching Women, Pious Men: Gender and Body Politics in Southeast Asia (UC Press, 1995). Prof. Ong received her Ph.D. from Columbia University.

Christine Padoch, New York Botanical Garden

Christine Padoch is Senior Curator Emerita of the Institute of Economic Botany at the New York Botanical Garden. She was Director of Research on Forests and Human Well-Being at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in Jakarta from 2011-17. She has a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Columbia University, where her dissertation examined migration by the Iban in Sarawak, Malaysia. Among her many publications, she is a co-author, with Susanna Hecht, Anastasia Lucy Yang, Bimbika Sijapati Basnett, and Nancy Peluso of “People in motion, forests in transition: trends in migration, urbanization, and remittances and their effects on tropical forests”, CIFOR Occasional Paper 142 (2015); co-editor, with Susanna Hecht and Kathleen Morrison, of The Social Lives of Forests: Past, Present, and Future of Woodland Resurgence (University of Chicago Press, 2014); co-editor, with Devra Jarvis and H.D. Cooper, of Managing Biodiversity in Agricultural Ecosystems (Columbia University Press, 2007); a guest editor, with Ole Mertz, Jefferson Fox, Robert Cramb, Stephen Leisz, Nguyen Thanh Lam and Tran Duc Vien of a special issue on swidden agriculture in Southeast Asia in Human Ecology 37:3 (2009); and co-author, with Nancy Peluso, of Borneo in Transition: People, Forests, Conservation, and Development (Oxford University Press, 1996).

Nancy Lee Peluso, UC Berkeley

Nancy Lee Peluso is Henry J. Vaux Distinguished Professor of Forest Policy in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy & Management at UC Berkeley. She received her Ph.D. from Cornell University. Her research, on resource policy and politics and forest and agrarian change, focuses on Indonesia. She is the author of Rich Forests, Poor People: Resource Control and Resistance in Java (UC Press, 1992). She is co-editor, with Christian Lund, of New Frontiers of Land Control (Taylor and Francis, 2012); with Joseph Nevins, of Taking Southeast Asia to Market: Commodities, People and Nature in a Neoliberal Age (Cornell University Press, 2008); with Christine Padoch, of Borneo in Transition: People, Forests, Conservation, and Development, revised edition (Oxford University Press, 2003); and, with Michael Watts, of Violent Environments (Cornell University Press, 2001). Her recent journal articles include, with A.B. Purwanto, “The remittance forest: Turning mobile labor into agrarian capital” in Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 39:1 (2018); and “Entangled Territories in Small-Scale Gold Mining Frontiers: Labor Practices, Property, and Secrets in Indonesian Gold Country” in World Development (January 2018). Her latest research project, funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, is examining labor migration and the effect of remittances on agriculture and forest landscapes in Indonesia.

Rachel Silvey, University of Toronto

Rachel Silvey is Richard Charles Lee Director of the Asian Institute and Professor of Geography at the University of Toronto. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Washington. Her research examines the gender dimensions of migration and economic change, with a focus on Indonesia. She recently collaborated with Prof. Rhacel Parrenas (University of Southern California) on a project funded by the National Science Foundation that examined Indonesian and Filipino domestic workers in Singapore and the UAE. Their work led to the co-authored journal articles “Not One of the Family: The Tight Spaces of Migrant Domestic Workers” in Harvard Design Magazine 41 (2015) and “Domestic Workers Refusing Neo-Slavery in the UAE” in Contexts 15:3 (2016); as well as their co-editing, with Hung Cam Thai, a special issue of positions 24:1 (2016). Her other journal articles and book chapters include “Mobilizing Piety: Gendered Morality and Indonesian–Saudi Transnational Migration” in Mobilities 2 (2007); “Consuming the transnational family: Indonesian migrant domestic workers to Saudi Arabia” in Global Networks 6:1 (2006); “Engendering Social Capital: Women Workers and Rural–Urban Networks in Indonesia’s Crisis”, with Rebecca Elmhirst, in World Development 31:5 (2003). She is co-editor, with Isabella Bakker, of Beyond States and Markets: The Challenges of Social Reproduction (Routledge, 2008) to which she contributed the chapter “Managing migration: reproducing gendered insecurity at the Indonesian border”. The Asian Institute is home to the Asian Pathways Research Lab, which is working to develop theoretical and methodological frameworks to understand human migrations and mobilities with a focus on Asian life histories and experiences.

Brenda Yeoh, National University of Singapore

Brenda Yeoh is Professor of Geography and Vice Provost of Graduate Education at the National University of Singapore. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Oxford. Her research is concerned generally with the politics of space in urban environmental, gender and migration and geographies of health. Her publications include the important study Contesting Space in Colonial Singapore: Power Relations and the Urban Built Environment (Oxford University Press, 1996), and, co-authored with Lily Kong, The Politics of Landscape in Singapore: Constructions of ‘Nation’ (Syracuse University Press, 2003). She has edited or co-edited many other books including Gender Politics in the Asia-Pacific Region (Routledge 2002), with Peggy Teo and Shirlena Huang; State/Nation/Transnation: Perspectives on Transnationalism in the Asia Pacific (Routledge, 2004), with Katie Willis; Asian Women as Transnational Domestic Workers (Marshall Cavendish, 2006) with Shirlena Huang and Noor Abdul Rahman; International Marriages in the Time of Globalization (Nova Science, 2010) with Elli Heikkila; Return: Nationalizing Transnational Mobility in Asia (Duke University Press, 2013) with Xiang Biao and Mika Toyota; and Transnational Labour Migration, Remittances and the Changing Family in Asia (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015) with Lan Anh Hoang. Her recent journal articles include “Indonesian domestic workers and the (un)making of transnational livelihoods and provisional futures” in Social & Cultural Geography 18:3 (2017) with Maria Platt, Choon Yen Khoo, Theodora Lam and Grace Baey; “Migration and gender politics in Southeast Asia” in Migration, Mobility, & Displacement 2:1 (2016); “Immigration and its (Dis)Contents: The challenges of highly skilled migration in globalising Singapore” in American Behavioral Scientist, 60: 5-6 (2016) with Theodora Lam; and “Cosmopolitan beginnings? Transnational healthcare workers and the politics of carework in Singapore” in The Geographical Journal 181:3 (2015) with Shirlena Huang.


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