Contested Belonging: Solidarity and Survival amongst Southeast Asian Migrant Communities


Double Panel

Part 1

Session 11
Thu 14:00-15:30 REC A2.07

Part 2

Session 12
Thu 16:00-17:30 REC A2.07


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Southeast Asia is home to hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees, many of whom do not hold official papers. These include countless Southeast Asians fleeing persecution, such as the Rohingya or Karen from Myanmar, as well as economic migrants, including Indonesians seeking employment in Malaysia. As within the wider world, migration has generated palpable – if exaggerated – political anxiety. Many migrants in Southeast Asia have few rights and suffer from state-sanctioned harassment, marginalisation, and economic disenfranchisement. But belonging is more than a matter of legality and citizenship; it denotes a series of aesthetic judgements, and strategies to navigate and survive in one’s environment. Moreover, charities, humanitarian volunteers, and religious organisations frequently support displaced people either financially or with basic social services. These create new social bonds that alter notions of citizenship and belonging. This panel will bring together a range of studies that explore the liminality of migrant experiences in contemporary Southeast Asia in order to ask how migrant communities reconfigure categories of invisibility and legal exclusion, and what this may tell us about belonging on the ‘margins’. Researchers from or located within Southeast Asia are particularly welcome to participate in this panel. The panel will serve to prepare a special issue on the same topic.