Friedman, Sara L., and Pardis Mahdavi, eds. Migrant Encounters, Intimate Labor, the State, and Mobility across Asia. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015.
Over the past few decades, the study of migrant workers, especially those who are engaged in domestic services across international borders in Asia, has yielded a rich and provocative body of research and publication. The field of migrant studies has emerged as a strong multi-disciplinary area of scholarship in history, sociology, and anthropology, yet its subject often remains contested. Is it concerned with the life and experience of migrant workers, some of whom became sex workers after entering a country they were not familiar with, or is it concerned with social and political conditions that, in many ways, forced them into an unexpected struggle for survival? When one studies migrant workers does one investigate the desires of a nation or state to send or to receive them? How do migrant workers adapt to various difficult situations to fulfill their varied goals? The appearance of Migrant Encounters, Intimate Labor, the State, and Mobility across Asia is well-timed to shed new light on the scholarly discussions focusing on the expectations, the journeys and struggles of intimate laborers, a large part of the migrant workers, and the states' policies that shape and reshape the migration across the Asian continent.
The book is divided into three major parts, containing essays by twelve scholars who tackle a broad variety of questions and issues. The first section explores the formation of multi-cultural families challenging the traditional ideas of marriage and intimacy, while analyzing the emergence of the commoditized vision of a cross-border marriage. In Chapter 1, Hyun Mee Kim discusses the formation of multi-cultural families in Korea encouraged by the government policy as a means to solve the declining population, which has become an additional economic benefit bringing transnational flow of money to families. In Chapter 2, Pilippo Osella offers a scholarly understanding of the changing social and cultural values concerning morality or immorality while exploring the decades of migration from Kerala in South India to the Gulf regions. Osella contends that "moral inconsistency and indeterminacy are conditions of everyday life" as a consequence of global migration.
The second section of the book investigates how national migration policies of Asian countries...