Migrant Workmen Speaking Out: Everyday Geographies of Excess in Singapore

Authors: Sallie Yea*, La Trobe University
Topics: Migration, Immigration/Transnationalism, Asia
Keywords: migration, diaries, representation, geographies of excess, singapore
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Evergreen, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The everyday is central to efforts to uncover the grounded articulations of fluidity and excess in migrant lives. Scholars of transnationality have also been united in their calls for “grounding transnationalism in the context of everyday life” (Bailey et al cited in Stodolska and Santos 2006). But the everyday lives of low-valued migrant workers often remain obscured, both from global cities and their figurative and literal edges. Yet, as Collins (2009 & 2017) points out, the everyday is a register for understanding resistances and “excesses” of transnational subjects because it is often through micro-processes and micro-spaces of the everyday that these practices can be discerned. The Diaries Project was conceived in 2014 to publish a book of migrant worker diaries focusing on the experiences of exploitation, transnational (dis)connections, and (in)justice in Singapore through the narratives and frames of migrant workers themselves. The project recognizes that migrant workmen themselves have an important place in articulating and representing the experiences of precarious work, and failed migration, and that they will do so in ways that are not only powerful and emotive, but also contain traces of the geographies of excess. Marginalised migrants can also reclaim so sense of ownership of their experiences through their involvement in the project. Methodologically, this paper explores the potential of migrant diaries to contest construction of them by re-centring their everyday lives. Substantively, the paper draws on narratives in the diaries to make visible the everyday struggles and resistances that constitute migrant precarity.

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