Brokered Safety: Labour Recruitment and Migration Assistance in the Mekong Region

On 14 August I have the great honour to present parts of my research on safe migration at the National University of Singapore (NUS). For further detials, please visit NUS's website.

Below is the abstract of my talk:

Academic literature on migration brokerage points to how intermediaries are central to labour recruitment. Although scholarship points to how migration brokers and brokerage must be understood as constitutive of state governance as opposed to autonomous actors, less attention has been given to the relationship between labour migration brokerage and the instrumentalisation of migration assistance by aid organisations. Based on recent ethnographic research in the Mekong region, this paper considers migration assistance provision that operates under the bureaucratic prism of “safe migration” interventions. Although a central objective of many safe migration programmes is to eliminate brokers, this paper argues that brokers (as social actors) and brokering (as social practice) are central, and to some extent integral, to the operationalisation of migration assistance. Although safe migration modalities are often understood as being oppositional to migration brokerage, one must recognise the domains of brokering and assistance provision as overlapping both in empirical and processual terms. The paper considers the wider implications this has for how aid delivery and migration policy are theorised.

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