Southeast Asia

Organized Panel Session

2 - Southeast Asia Migration and the Question of Unequal Citizenship

Friday, July 6
10:20 AM - 11:50 AM
Location: Gulmohar, First Floor

With new capital flows and shifts in a global market, masses of migrant workers become displaced through legal agencies and illegal trafficking which have given rise to mobile populations that disrupt the balance of citizens to non-citizens. To meet the demand for the labor force, Taiwan has in the last thirty years imported a large number of migrant labor, mostly from Southeast Asia, especially Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand. However, such documented or undocumented labor, oftentimes abused, cannot be fully protected by the Labor Standards Act. Unable to fight for their rights of recognition and equality that the host society is supposed to embrace, they fall victim to legally institutionalized modern slavery. These invisible communities, living here while remaining unseen and unable to participate in society on an equal footing, constitute the bottom of the internal colonial system, and pose challenges to problems of community citizenship. According to the statistics of the Workforce Development Agency, the total number of migrant workers in Taiwan had reached up to 671,228 by the end of October 2017. That means, the population of foreign workers is a lot more than the population of the indigenous people in Taiwan, which is 557,920 by the end of September 2017. Moreover, according to the report by the National Immigration Agency of the Ministry of Interior, there are 53,303 missing migrant workers in Taiwan, and more than 6000 stateless orphans in Taiwan, i.e., discarded by the female migrant workers either because they were raped or because they do not want to be sent back to their home countries. These stateless orphans are mostly adopted by local churches or NGOs, but they have no social welfare, no medical services, nor educational support. In light of the above dilemma, this project addresses unequal citizenship issues that have been revealed by migrant workers and undocumented agricultural laborers, analyzes various alternative solutions for social and artistic intervention, creates trans-local associations of NGOs and artistic groups, proposes various agenda of legal reforms, while exploring possible conceptions for future society.

Joyce Liu

National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan (Republic of China)

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