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Labour migration in Asia: Protracted precarity and truncated rights

Tuesday 17 October 2017, 1.15PM

Speaker: Professor Nicola Piper, University of Sydney

York International Development Network Open Lecture

Against the backdrop of the specific patterns and dynamics of intra-Asia temporary labour migration and the dominant global and regional migration governance frameworks that sustain them, the analysis presented is premised on the concept of protracted precarity. It is argued that this concept contests the assumption that migrant workers ‘move into’ conditions of precarious employment when they travel abroad by emphasising the existing forms of economic vulnerability within migrant-sending countries that condition the need for workers to seek foreign employment in the first place. Protracted precarity is found to be shaped by structural inequalities throughout the global and regional economy and buttressed by institutional incapacity and lacking integration of labour governance within migration governance. The key argument advanced is that the dominant project of migration governance continues to fail in several key areas, reflected by decent work deficits in relation to labour rights, the nature of employment opportunities and lacking social protection at all stages of the migration process – i.e. a failure to realise migrants’ human and labour rights prior to migration, while abroad and upon return. Without adopting a holistic understanding of migrant precarity and its spatio-temporal dimensions, migration governance’s promise to benefit all parties will continue to ring hollow for temporary labour migrants themselves.

Speaker biography:  As a political sociologist and migration scholar, Nicola Piper’s broad areas of interest cover migrants’ rights, transnational political organising, multi-layered governance of migration and gendered migration. More specifically, her research is on migration governance “from below” - that is a rights-based approach to migration derived from (formal and informal) political organising by or on behalf of migrants. She is interested in the discursive framing of rights as well as organisational evolution in rights delivery. She has also carried out work on the migration-development-nexus, temporary contract and return migration, as well as political remittances. Her latest area of interest is global and transnational social policy, the Sustainable Development Goals in relation to migration, portable justice and the portability of rights. Nicola’s empirical focus is on the Asia-Pacific region but she has conducted fieldwork in Latin America, Europe and Oceania also.

Location: Environment Lecture Theatre, Department of Environment, Wentworth Way

Admission: is by free ticket only. Please book below.

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