Follow the Maid: Domestic Worker Migration from Indonesia

Follow the Maid: Domestic Worker Migration from Indonesia

by Olivia Killias

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This fascinating study unveils the workings of the Indonesian migration regime, one that sends hundreds of thousands of women abroad as domestic workers each year. Drawing on extended ethnographic research since 2007, the book literally follows migrant women from one particular village in Central Java and tracks the moral, social, economic and legal processes by which they are turned into ‘maids’. From recruitment by local brokers to the ‘training’ received in secluded camps in Jakarta, employment in gated middle-class homes in Malaysia and back home again, Olivia Killias highlights the implications of the migration process on gendered practices of labour mobility (and immobilisation). She also reveals the disciplinary power that states, recruitment agencies and employers exercise over migrant domestic workers as well as highlighting frictions within the system. Killias’s analysis demonstrates that ironically, the “legalisation” of the migration industry, under the joint pressures of the Indonesian migration bureaucy and international humanitarian agencies, does not automatically improve the situation of the women who embark on the migration adventure. Rather, Killias unmasks the gendered moralizing discourses on “illegal” migration and “trafficking” as legitimizing indentured labour and constraining migrant mobility. By exploring the workings of the Indonesian state’s overseas legal labour migration regime for migrants, she brings the reader directly into the nerve-racking lives of migrant village women, and reveals the richness and ambiguity of their experiences, going beyond stereotypical representations of them as “victims of trafficking”. This is a study that will appeal to scholars and students as well as policy-makers, NGOs, journalists and many others engaged in issues of globalization, transnational migration and gender.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9788776942274
Publisher: NIAS
Publication date: 10/30/2017
Series: Gendering Asia Series , #13
Edition description: Olivia Killias
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Olivia Killias is a senior lecturer at the Institute of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies, University of Zurich, and has extended research experience in Indonesia and Malaysia. Her work has focused on the moral economies of migration, domestic worker migration in and from Indonesia, the negotiation of suspicion and surveillance in the Iranian diaspora in Malaysia, and ethnographic film.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements vii

List of Figures vi

Introduction 1

1 The Indonesian Migration Regime 25

2 Leaving the Tea Fields 57

3 On the Road: Male Realms of Brokerage 87

4 At Camp: Indonesian Maids in the Making 107

5 Doors Closed: Indonesian Domestic Workers in Malaysia 141

6 Return - and New Departures 179

Conclusion 201

References 209

Index 229

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