The Migration Industry: Facilitators and Brokerage in Asia
Date : 01 Jun 2017 - 02 Jun 2017
Venue : Asia Research Institute, Seminar Room
AS8, Level 4, 10 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119260
National University of Singapore @ Kent Ridge Campus
Download Program and Abstracts

The migration industry signals both the privatization of migration infrastructures and the increasingly formalized involvement of brokers and agents in migration. It comes as no surprise that the “migrant-broker” or agent has emerged as an important player to understand the dynamics involved in migrant trajectories. While the work of migrants as informal brokers persists – mainly based on the observation that low-skilled migrants pay a considerable price for their services – it has also been observed that without their involvement migration would often simply not be possible. At the same time, an increasing number of brokers operate within formalized networks and/or as part of professional organizations. As such we argue that an understanding of migrant brokers needs to go beyond kinship ties and clientelism and incorporate an understanding of how such networks and organizations operate within the transnational sphere of migration flows. Our aim is to zoom into mediation processes, institutional practices, and multiple activities of “micro-brokerage” involved in the facilitation of migration as well as the infrastructural support of the migration industry.

The workshop comprises of six panels organized around following themes:

1) “State, labor organizations, and institutional brokerage” addresses how state and non-state actors complement, collaborate with, and differ from practices that individual and independently operating brokers are engaged in. The set of papers in the first panel explore this connection by locating the role of the state and state-led agencies engaged in governing the migration industry in India, Nepal, and Japan.

2) “Brokerage as knowledge production” investigates specific ways in which migration brokerage materialize instrumentally, symbolically and strategically. The set of papers in the second panel documents everyday brokering activities in legal mediation, contestation over identity formation, and employment-recruitment work.

3) “Brokerage, il/licitness and exploitation” highlights the overlap, rather than the separation, between formal and informal channels and processes around brokerage that increasingly support the migration industry.  Papers in the third panel bring a fresh empirical approach to this conversation.

4) The double panel on “Brokerage in the domestic labor industry” focuses into “micro-brokerage” activities involving individual agents, entrepreneurial brokers and institutional facilitators. The two panels (Panel 4 and Panel 5) are in conversation with one another on the topic of wide-ranging state-institutions and transnational networks supporting the ever-expanding domestic labor industry in Asia.

5) The final panel on “Brokerage in the education industry” examines the critical, often less understood, role of brokerage structure that facilitate student migration across and outside Asia.  By looking into brokering activities that shape the contemporary ‘study-abroad market,’ the set of papers offer a novel approach to studying the commercialization of the education industry in general.    



Admission is free, and seats are available on a first come, first served basis. We would greatly appreciate if you click on the "Register" button above to RSVP.



Dr Tina Shrestha
Asia Research Institute, NUS
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Dr Michiel Baas
Asia Research Institute, NUS
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Dr Bernardo Brown
Asia Research Institute, NUS
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Prof Brenda S.A. Yeoh
Asia Research Institute & Department of Geography, NUS
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