MPI-MMG @ conferences

Host: Universität Bielefeld, Faculty of Sociology
Since the 1970s, a significant number of migrant domestic workers from the Asian region (primarily from the Philippines, Indonesia, India, and Sri Lanka) have worked to sustain households in cities such as Singapore and Hong Kong. Amidst public debate about the ever-increasing need for migrant domestic workers to assist with eldercare in Asia, we hear little about their own futures. Based on ethnographic research, this talk traces the journeys of an older generation of migrant domestic workers who have spent much of their working lives abroad on temporary contracts. Given the restrictive long-term residence policies in the places in which they work, migrant domestic workers must return to their countries of origin upon retirement. The talk focuses on the ‘ends’ of transnational care, considering both the individual, collective and familial life projects and aspirations that long-term domestic workers have sought to cultivate in their years of work abroad; as well as the new aspirations that ageing domestic workers develop as they imagine their futures towards the end of their transnational working lives. I argue that the aspirations of migrant women, while initially stated in linear terms, rarely settle; rather, they take on novel and ambivalent forms that are often temporally at odds with the restrictive migration regimes which shape their transnational care trajectories. [more]
This talk concerns living experiences of ageing, transnational family care, and border regimes in the context of displacement. Drawing from multi-sited ethnographic research among the East Timorese, I discuss how older adults cope with family separation and life in exile, their aspirations, when and how transnational care becomes ‘on hold’, and how they deal with the impossibility of meeting intergenerational and cultural obligations. The talk examines care through the lens of ‘circulation’ and attends to the asymmetries entailed in intergenerational relationships and border regimes in the waysthey shape (and are shaped by) transnational care exchanges. In the context of ‘ageing in exile’, it is essential to understand older people’s narratives as they are linked with the ambivalences of other family members across generations. Forms of immobility withholding or limiting care can transcend physical borders, including the social and emotional boundaries conflict-divided communities build against one another over time. These imaginary borders require us to think about how precarious familial relations affect understandings of transnational care amid enduring legacies of violence. [more]
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