International Workshop on “Intimate Lives of Intimate Laborers”
Waseda University, Nishi-Waseda Building, Room 309
Although the past decade has witnessed resurgence of interest in questions of human trafficking, intimate labor, and the feminization of migration, few scholars have positioned the intimate lives of laborers at the center of analysis. This workshop proposes to address this gap in our understanding of the intersections of family, kinship, and the intimate choices of those working in the sphere of intimate labor. Much scholarly writing focuses predominantly on migrants as products of their labor or circumstances. Rather than focusing on the labor performed by intimate laborers, we focus instead on the intimate lives of intimate laborers, exploring ways in which their ideas of intimacy, family, kinship, and love are both affected by and affect their migratory labor. Focusing on migrants solely within the framework of the type of labor they engage in, or the circumstances of their migration functions to flatten migrant identities by reducing them to their employment or locale. This flattening of their identities occurs through hegemonic state discourses and policies (such as those pertaining to human trafficking or labor regulations), instead of the needed attention to the contours of migrants’ lives and the structural factors that they are up against. Migrants are not just ‘victims’ or ‘laborers’, but are mothers, daughters, activists, and entrepreneurs who employ strategic decision making within and throughout the migratory process.
In this workshop, we propose to bring together a group of scholars writing about various types of intimate laborers (including domestic workers, nannies, care givers, beauticians, and sex workers) who have migrated across Asia as well as their employers. The goal is to look in comparative contexts across Asia to ask questions such as: How is the notion of family changing for intimate laborers? How do migrant women’s working environments change their understanding of their own intimate lives? How do women draw on their intimate lives to affect change in their working environments? And how do employers experience the presence of intimate laborers in their own intimate lives? These and other questions will be explored through ethnographic fieldwork conducted by scholars in locales from West to East Asia over the past decade.
12:00-13:00 Lunch Break
13:00-14:20 Session 2 Mother-child intimacy in transition
14:20-14:30 Coffee Break
14:30-15:30 Session 3 Transformation of intimate ties in Japan
15:30-16:20 Open Floor Discussion Moderator: Masako Ishii
16:20-16:30 Wrap-up By Naomi Hosoda
WIASP Migration and Citizenship Research Group
Waseda University Insitute of Asia-Pacific Studies(WIAPS)