Led by: Prof. Silvia Vignato
Institution: Università di Milano-Bicocca (UNIMIB)
Issues. We focus on mobility, work and exclusion, adopting local perspectives and focusing on long-term trends to examine voluntary/involuntary circulation of people in SEA and assess their impact on the lives of individuals and groups. Key issues include cross-border circulation, rural-urban migration, intra-national and transnational labour migration as well as exclusion from mobility and opportunities. Mobility is studied from the standpoint of social actors, and attempts to account for inequalities in opportunity and resource. A guiding hypothesis in our research is the idea that socially vulnerable people are shaped by movement and learn to use it as a tool for the transformation of their lives. A gender perspective will be fundamental to this set of studies.
With the contribution of economists using quantitative methods, we also assess the impact of market integration in the regional productive order, focusing on: 1) the included, eg. new industrial workers participating in the regional subcontracting system; 2) the excluded, eg. marginal and vulnerable groups, whose livelihoods are strongly integrated and dependent on market mechanisms, yet remain marginalised because the system a) has a constant need for a reserve army of cheap labour, and b) the existence of this labour force hinders demands for improved wages and conditions in the industrial sector.
Projects. Our socio-anthropological studies include mobility across mainland frontiers and the straits of Malacca, work-related rural-urban mobility and migration within/from Vietnam and Indonesia, and knowledge-seeking-related mobility (students, religious students, activists). Team members are also studying the production of goods for circulation (gold mining, textile factories) and informal networks/communities (sex-workers’ recruiting networks, informal trade communities). Other projects focus on more formal networks, such as migration-oriented NGOs, state-driven migratory networks and the development of tourism.
Some of our work involves the identification of migratory ‘traps’ and vulnerabilities, with particular attention to trafficked people and returnees (Vietnam, Cambodia), unemployed (mainly female) rural migrants and the working poor in industrialized areas (Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam), babies of illegal migrants in Malaysia and children in Thai slums.
WP3 Researchers and Staff