Proletarian and Gendered Mass Migrations: Book Launch

Published 13 November 2013

mass migrations modifiedWhat drives someone to leave his or her country for another? Sometimes it is personal choice; often it is anything but. There are a plethora of reasons for migration, whether on a temporary or permanent basis and, according to the UN, approximately 232 million people around the world are migrants.

Many factors drive people to migrate, and labour migrations occur in almost every region. This is not a new trend: migrating out of poverty has been taking place for centuries.

In recent decades, research has focussed on labour migration, documented/undocumented migration, and forced migration, including human trafficking and refugee movements.

A group of scholars, led by the University of New England’s Professor Amarjit Kaur and working in collaboration with members of the International Social History Association, are now taking a less traditional approach by examining migration movements through the broader lens of gendered mass migration.

Professor Kaur is one of the world’s leading scholars in the fields of migration and Southeast Asian economic history. Her latest book, Proletarian and Gendered Mass Migration, co-edited with Professor Dirk Hoerder from Arizona State University, will be launched by Professor Alison Sheridan, head of UNE Business School next week.

This latest book, bringing together contributions from a number of esteemed experts in the field, gives a fascinating insight into migration – one of the most topical and politicised issues facing the global community currently. The contributors examine different migration trends around the world, migration categorisations and policy responses of states, as well as the migration and development nexus.

Professor Kaur writes that since the 1990s “the demand for domestic workers, nurses and caregivers suddenly began to be highlighted, and thus migration became ‘a women’s thing.’ In the curiously gendered academic world, most male researchers continue to work on male proletarian migrations of the past, while women scholars analyse the female working migrants of the present.”

Professor Kaur also puts a particular emphasis on Asian migration. “In this volume, we privilege Asia as a migration arena… While all major regions have been included, the case studies concentrate on migrations within and from Asia.”

The potential consequences of migration are also of concern. “International labour migration has created a large underclass with limited opportunities for upward mobility and access to universal human rights,” Professor Kaur and Professor Hoerder write in the introductory chapter of the book.

Migration is a perennial issue the world over, and Professor Kaur describes it as the issue that will most define our future world. “Migration touches people everywhere,” she said. “It is a fact of human existence and I, along with the other contributing authors, feel it is necessary to discuss the matters surrounding migration on a number of different levels.”

Professor Kaur has been at the University of New England since 1990 and has written 11 books (sole-authored, edited and co-edited), 49 book chapters, and numerous journal articles and encyclopaedia entries on a number of fields, particularly relating to Asian labour, migration and the economic history of Southeast Asia .

The launch of Professor Kaur’s book will take place at the UNE Business School on Monday 18 November.