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Workshop Directors

Biao Xiang
University of Oxford

Mika Toyota
National University of Singapore

Workshop Participants

Sneha Banerjee, M.Phil Student, Centre for International Politics, Organization and Disarmament (CIPOD), School of International Studies Jawahaharlal Nehru University
“Globalization and Women’s Remunerative Word: the Curious Case of Commercial Surrogacy in India”

Sara Friedman, Associate Professor, Anthropology and Gender Studies, Indiana University
“Reproducing the Taiwanese Nation: Population Anxieties in an Age of Marital Migration”

Zeynep Gürtin-Broadbent, Research Fellow and Ph.D. Student, Centre for Family Research, University of Cambridge
“Conceiving the Nation: Reproductive Migration and the Negotiation of Trans/nationalism in Turkey”

Marcia C. Inhorn, William K. Lanman Jr. Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs in the Department of Anthropology and The Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale University and Chair, Council on Middle East Studies, Yale University
“Reproductive Exile in Global Dubai: Stories from South Asia”

Olivia Killias, Ph.D. Candidate, Institute for Social Anthropology, University of Bern
“The Making of ‘Quality Maids’: Managing Reproduction Migration between Indonesia and Malaysia”

Ara Wilson, Associate Professor, Women’s Studies and Cultural Anthropology and Director of the program in the study of sexualities, Duke University
“Inter-Asian Medicine, National Economies, And Transnational Embodiments”

Call for Workshop Papers

The rise of “reproduction migration”-movements of people for the purpose of maintaining and reproducing people on a daily and generational basis-is a significant social development in Asia, especially after the 1997 financial crisis. In many parts of the region, international migrations for marriage, the provision as well as the receipt of care, and education are increasing faster than conventional labor mobility. Built on a wide-range of existent but largely discrete case studies, this workshop seeks integrative frameworks in order to theorize the migrations of care workers, domestic maids, students, spouses, entertainers, medical tourists and others. The concept of “social reproduction”-how society is organized structurally and over time surrounding the everyday production of life-will be central to our discussion. While the notion of social reproduction has a long history, our discussion will be informed by two specific new developments. First, the rise of “anthropogenetic capitalism” that concerns how men produce men, instead of how men produce goods, as evidenced by the fact that health care, education and entertainment are among the fastest growing industries, brings social reproduction to the core of the economy. Second, the processes of social reproduction are transnationalized with increasing reproduction migration. Thus, the distinctions between the productive and the reproductive, and between the national and the transnational, are profoundly blurred.

The workshop will focus, by no means exclusively, on the following sets of questions:

  • First, how should we understand the increase of reproduction migration in the context of crises in conventional material accumulation (e.g. 1997, 2008, and numerous other local crises)? How does reproduction migration enable the commodification of social reproduction and at the same time exacerbate the moral anxiety about it?
  • Second, what is the relationship between reproduction migration and the nation-state? Reproduction migration helps sustain national social reproduction, but is also seen as disruptive of established patterns and ideologies of reproduction. For example, how are international marriages facilitated and regulated to reconcile this tension? What are the implications of student migration on education institutions’ function as a reproducer of the national culture?
  • Third, how should we rethink about gender, social difference and intimate labor? Reproduction migration brings people of different categories into intimate contacts. Why do employers prefer migrants who are supposedly different from themselves, often in primordial terms, for providing intimate labor? How are difference and intimacy transmuted to each other? Why does women’s reproductive labor have to be “denaturalized” (by looking after non-relatives) in order to be socially valued, while “natural” intimate labor remains morally desirable?

The prospective participants must have worked on reproduction migration empirically and the paper must be conceptually oriented towards the notion of social reproduction. We especially welcome contributions that integrate ethnographic investigation into political economy analysis. The workshop will also reflect on general strategies of theorization in social research in Asia.