Safe migration: an emerging development modality?

February 14, 2017

ANU's Crawford School is hosting the Annual Australasian Aid Conference 15-16 February, where I will present a paper of safe migration governance in relation to development aid strategies. Abstract below: 


Economic dimensions of migration-led development (such as remittances) have received considerable attention in the development literature. Less focus has been placed on social dimensions of migrant governance which seek to enable migration flows and safeguard migrant’s well-being.  In recent years, several UN agencies and NGOs who have previously implemented anti-trafficking activities have reoriented emphasis towards “safe migration” in the Mekong region. Based on ongoing, long-term fieldwork, this paper examines this emergent form of aid modality by illuminating several challenges programmes phase when attempting to instrumentalise  “safety” for migrant workers. The paper argues that the specific ways migrant communities are socially, cultural and political embedded within host communities are central to the efficacy of such approaches, which in turn raise two broader implications for aid actors: the role of participation within aid programming (given the precarious legal status of migrants); and, a broader problematic of “scaling up” activities given that safe migration initiatives attempt to target migrants as they move through space (as opposed to being confined by it). 

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