Dr Kelly Gerard, Australia Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Fellow and Senior Lecturer in the School of Social Sciences, University of Western Australia
This paper presents a political economy of labour migration in Southeast Asia by examining the specific sectoral interests that underpin governance, and associated tensions and conflicts. Despite its importance to national development and individual livelihoods in Southeast Asia, labour migration has been poorly and unevenly governed. A two-tiered, or "bifurcated", system allows receiving states to cherry-pick professionals from the global workforce, while leaving low-wage migrants vulnerable to precarity, exploitation, abuse, and debt bondage. This reflects the balance of social forces within respective societies, with the strong influence of private sector interests over public policy working to suppress, co-opt or contain the conflicts driven by migrant workers and civil society organisations. Notably, the governance of low-wage migration in the region emphasises the management of movements and the deployment of workers, rather than the promotion of their rights and welfare. High-wage migration regimes, on the other hand, have been designed in support of specific state projects and agendas, whether to raise state capital or protect particular professions, generating a highly uneven process of regional "liberalisation" for the ASEAN Economic Community.
Dr Kelly Gerard is an Australia Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Fellow and Senior Lecturer in the School of Social Sciences at the University of Western Australia. Her research focuses on the political economy of development policymaking in Southeast Asia. Kelly is currently working on a project examining the determinants of aid programming for women's empowerment. Her work has been published in Review of International Political Economy, The Pacific Review, and Globalizations, among others. Kelly is an Endeavour Cheung Kong Award recipient and co-editor of the Palgrave series, Studies in the Political Economy of Public Policy.
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