The Nexus of Migration and Masculinity in the Asian Context
Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore
15 – 16 July 2010
Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore
The interface between gender and migration scholarship has been problematic for many years, especially in the last half of the twentieth century. A number of scholars have agreed that from the 1950s to the 1970s, scholarship on migration worldwide focused almost exclusively on men as the “birds of passage,” while women, children, and the elderly were seen as following in their paths. This earlier research assumed that males were more inclined and able to take risks and to journey far away in search of better job opportunities, whereas women, if they migrated at all, were depicted as emotional caretakers who accompanied men to ensure family and community stability. In the 1970s and 1980s, migration research redressed the male bias, but the pendulum shifted so far in the opposite direction that the male migrant disappeared almost to the same degree that the female migrant had previously been absent in prior decades. It is evident that many scholars currently assert that they study gender and migration, yet only focus on women; and while there was a time when the exclusive-male focus needed correction, that time has now passed.
It is time to fill the gap in contemporary scholarly conversations about gender and migration by focusing on the nexus of migration and masculinity. We are interested in bringing scholars to this conference to address how men are migrant subjects, but also how men are affected when their wives, daughters, sisters and other female relatives are the migrants, while they are left behind. The aim of this conference is to examine the nexus between migration and masculinity in Asia. This is not to say that we want to ignore the experiences of female migrants, but to look more closely at the relationship between migration and masculinity. To that end, we welcome papers that address gender and migration, but with a specific focus on how men configure in migration processes, and how migration is configured into men’s lives. By focusing on the nexus of migration and masculinity, this conference seeks to interrogate the political, economic, and social structures that organize migratory flows within and throughout Asia. We welcome papers that address one of the following questions:
1) Money, Masculinity, Migration
In migrant communities, remittances play a central role in organizing and sustaining transnational family ties. Hundreds of billions of dollars are remitted annually around the world, and Asian migrants are key senders and receivers of migrant money. Who sends remittances? How do male migrants differ from female migrants in their sending and receiving activities? What are the gendered dimensions of sending and receiving? And how is money “gendered” in transnational families?
2) Preservation of Male-Dominated Ideologies through Migration Patterns
Gender ideologies and practices are imagined and exercised through migration. In what ways do men preserve male-dominated ideologies in migration patterns? How do male non-migrants respond to the feminization of migration over the past few decades? To what extent are regimes of gender and patriarchy contested or sustained by men in migration? How do left behind men challenge or sustain patriarchy as their female relatives and spouses migrate?
3) Male Migrants and the Role of the State
A number of studies have demonstrated that male migrants are often favored by the state. For example, men are often delegated to leadership roles in hometown associations and development projects, which are often sponsored by local and national governments. Also, the state frequently has gendered assumptions about stratified labor markets, and thereby mobilizes different jobs for men and women. How do government policies affect men and women’s migration strategies? How do men configure in nation-building projects differently than women?
4) Masculinity, Settlement, and Return Migration
There is ample evidence to suggest that migrants are involved in different types of movements and that increasingly, migrants do not see themselves as eventual settlers in the country of destination, but instead as transmigrants who go back and forth to the homeland and their host country, regardless of their citizenship status in the host country. How does gender factor into people’s post migration lives, especially as they begin to take on return activities? How do notions of masculinity become transformed or maintained as return visits are made to the homeland? How do men, when they are not migrants themselves, respond to female migrants’ absence and return?
5) Men and the Global Sexscape
A number of studies have addressed women’s work in the sex industry across the global scene. Less is known about men’s role in this “sexscape.” How are men configured into the global sex work industry as travelers in sex tourism, as men purchasing sex from female migrant sex workers, and sometimes as sex workers themselves?
6) Men, Aging, and the Retirement Industry
In recent years, a number of receiving countries, especially in Southeast Asia, are actively developing a retirement industry for Westerners and Japanese elderly populations. This is part of a larger nation-building project among some developing countries. In some countries, men overwhelmingly outnumber women as retiree migrants. What factors contribute to this disparity? What is the role of the state in facilitating this gendered pattern of elderly male migration?
Paper proposals should be submitted by 19 February 2010 using the Paper Proposal Form and should include a 500-word abstract as well as a short biography.
Apart from summarising the main arguments and findings of the paper, the abstract should:
(a) indicate the theme/question of the conference that the paper aims to address;
(b) briefly describe the theoretical framework or conceptual innovation of the paper; and
(c) provide a statement of the paper’s methodological route and data sources.
Please submit and address all applications to Miss Alyson Rozells (firstname.lastname@example.org) of the Asia Research Institute, NUS.
Successful applicants will be notified by the beginning of March 2010.
Full papers (6000-7000 words) are due three weeks before the conference date of July 15-16, 2010.
Selected papers will eventually be considered in an edited volume with a university press.
Prof Brenda YEOH
Asia Research Institute & Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
National University of Singapore
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