Social Anthropology Seminar: Enduring Labour: Time and the Ageing Migrant Body
This talk explores the enduring labour of temporary migrants, specifically of older migrant domestic workers who have worked in Singapore for decades. Singapore’s immigration policy enforces mandatory retirement and return migration when domestic workers reach the age of 60. According to the linear notions of time put forward by the state and by institutions of this restrictive migration regime, migrants’ ageing bodies are perceived to be in decline and no longer productive. Migrant women, however, contest such characterisations of their bodies and instead inhabit alterative notions of time which emphasise staying; maintaining and sustaining everyday routines and relationships of care; and cultivating practices that bridge their present lives abroad and anticipated futures ‘back home’. In this paper, I consider how the enduring labour of migrant domestic workers attempts to re-characterise their temporary existences, albeit incompletely, as tensions emerge between the different temporal logics that shape the ends of their working lives abroad.
- Megha Amrith, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity