Social Structure, Relationships and Reproduction in Quasi-Family Networks: Brokering Circular Migration of Vietnamese Sex Workers to Singapore by Dr Nicolas Lainez
Date : 22 Feb 2018
Time : 16:00 - 17:30
Venue : Asia Research Institute, Meeting Room
AS8 Level 7, 10 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119260
National University of Singapore @ KRC


Dr Tina Shrestha, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore


This paper proposes an ethnographic examination of the inner workings of unsanctioned informal networks that facilitate the circular migration and labour of Vietnamese sex workers to Singapore. These operations are coordinated by brokers who sell migration services to their clients. I conceptualize them as ‘quasi-family networks’ because kinship bonds, the fact that brokers (‘mothers’) and sex workers (‘daughters’) operate under the framework of a family ethos which allows them to establish intimate yet unequal relationships, and socializing and reproductive processes inscribed in the family form, are defining structural features. The study of these organisational and operational traits allows us to consider a new network model in the field of transnational migration for sex work, and to discuss issues of network structure, reproduction and adaptability in repressive market environments in the relation to the family form.


Nicolas Lainez has a PhD in Social Anthropology from the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences, and a Masters in Development Studies from Sorbonne University, France. Before resuming academic studies, he worked as a photojournalist for the media and development sector in Southeast Asia. His research is located in the field of economic anthropology, and his research areas include credit and informal finance, mobility and brokerage systems, family and care economies, gender and sexuality, and the commodification of intimacy in the neoliberal era. He is presently conducting research on migration, infidelity and second wives in the Vietnamese migrant community in Laos for the Institute for Research and Development, France. He has published in the Journal of Vietnamese Studies, the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, and has a paper forthcoming in American Anthropologist.


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