National Belonging and Violent Norms of Gendered Migrant Citizenship
Indonesian Migrant Domestic Workers’ Appropriation of a National Ritual
Citable Link (URL):http://resolver.sub.uni-goettingen.de/purl?gs-1/15988
This article takes into view negotiations over the behaviour of Hong Kong-based Indonesian domes-tic workers as morally upright and respectable citizens. In collaboration with private agencies, the Indonesian government has actively promoted the temporary outmigration of female workers into low-waged and precarious employment arrangements as a strategy to combat unemployment and generate remittances, foreign exchange and development. The Indonesian labour migration program is, however, faced with the public’s anxieties and indignation over migrant domestic workers’ experi-ences of gender-based violence abroad and concerns over national dignity. As pointed out by a num-ber of feminist studies, “labor brokerage states” (Rodriguez 2010) meet the gendered contradictions of their labour migration programmes with appeals to migrant domestic workers’ morality. This arti-cle makes use of Judith Butler’s notion of “normative violence” (Butler 1999, 2004) to frame these appeals as subtle forms of discipline that police and regulate Indonesian migrant domestic workers. It addresses the strong role of female morality in defining which workers deserve protection and which workers can adequately represent the Indonesian nation on the international stage. By taking the case of Hong Kong-based Indonesian domestic workers’ self-organised and distinct enactment of a na-tional ritual on Independence Day 2014, I discuss how they appropriate norms of national belonging and how at the same time they challenge the subtle forms of violence inherent in moralising notions of gendered “migrant citizenship” (Rodriguez 2010).
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