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Senior Research Seminar: Dr Catherine Allerton

When Oct 20, 2017
from 04:15 PM to 06:00 PM
Where Edmund Leach Room Division of Social Anthropology Free School Lane, Cambridge
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Dr Catherine Allerton, London School of Economics

Stuck in the Short Term: Immobility and Temporalities of Care among Florenese Migrants in Sabah, Malaysia 


In Sabah, East Malaysia, decades of informal migration, combined with increasingly strict immigration regulations, have led to a paradoxical situation of immobility. Impoverished eastern Indonesian migrants find themselves ‘stuck’, unable either to return home and build a house in their home village, or to plan for a future in Malaysia. Their Sabah-born children are born migrants, excluded from Malaysian schools, but mostly lacking knowledge of their parents’ Indonesian homes. The paper discusses the narratives of three migrant families from east Flores, exploring how practices of care are intertwined with control exerted by the state, employers, and non-migrant kin in places of origin. It argues that many families have been led, by necessity, to emphasise short-term care and physical proximity with children over long-term care such as investment in education. However, the continued significance of Florenese commitments to land and houses can make living in the short-term morally problematic.

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