Abstract

This paper examines the techniques and networks that enable the transnational movement of migrant laborers from Indonesia. Theoretically, the paper argues that governmentality is an effective concept through which to understand political economic relations across national borders and outside state institutions. The concept is useful not only in analysis of abstract policy prescriptions, but also in the apparently mundane methods that are intended to rationalize the training, delivery and security of migrant laborers. The intervention herein is in part methodological, in so far as the paper argues that the concept is useful in analyzing the everyday practices that are a frequent focus of ethnographic fieldwork. Empirically grounded in interviews and observational fieldwork in Indonesia, the paper describes the networks that facilitate transnational labor migration from the country and demonstrates the interconnection of the "global" economy with localized moral economies. Thus, the paper argues that transnational flows of migrant laborers are in fact dependent upon supposedly traditional patron-client networks. Furthermore, I suggest that some NGOs advocating for the rights of migrant workers are not inimical to state power, but in fact work to enhance it. Strategies to protect the rights of migrant laborers may bring about greater state intervention in their lives. The paper proposes two technologies deployed by non-state entities, specifically human resources companies and NGOs, that facilitate transnational labor migration. The first are termed technologies of servitude and are intended to impart the skills and attitudes necessary to conduct domestic labor. The latter are technologies for rationalizing labor flows to wealthier countries of the Indian and Pacific Ocean regions.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1518
Print ISSN
0003-5491
Pages
pp. 407-434
Launched on MUSE
2004-09-03
Open Access
No
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