Call for Papers | The Politics of Distribution: Migrant Labour, Development and Religious Aid in Asia
June 2, 2017
Migrant labour has been viewed as an important factor in growth, productivity and poverty reduction in Asia where rapid economic development has raised many to middle income countries. However, parallel to the growth of these economies has arisen new challenges and tensions as well as continuing underdevelopment (Rigg 2015). This includes what some scholars have identified as the formation of a labour surplus population in many parts of the world, where a decline in small agriculture and new industries generating less employment has resulted in a labour over supply that has made many “redundant” in the global production system (Ferguson 2015, Li 2010). Instead, distributive practices and “relations of dependence” (Ferguson 2015) have increased in the context of not only diminishing employment opportunities but also in uncertain and precarious employment, as is in the case of migrant labour which has often been linked to abuses over working conditions and wages.
In this sense, religious aid is one significant and diverse form of distributive practice. This is particularly the case where the rise in global civil society and non-state actors make up for many of the “structural holes” (Faist 2009) in social services neglected by the State. The absence of the State in this area, particularly in the global South, has led to an opening up of a space for alternative actors to ‘fill in the gap’, including faith-based actors where religious spaces have become simultaneously humanitarian and development spaces. This is particularly the case for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, who as ‘non-citizens’ are often marginalised in their access to formal work and social services.
The conference will engage with Ferguson’s concept of distributive practices (Ferguson 2015) to interrogate whether it is applicable to religious aid in the Asian context as a significant form of contemporary labour. This is in recognition of the fact that cultivating the social relationships which make distributive flows possible is not a passive condition, but rather the outcome of a particular type of labour (Ferguson 2015, 97). Although having always existed in the form of remittances, kin-based sharing, patronage, “corruption” and relations of dependence on others such as NGOs and corporations, distributive practices have taken on a new amplitude with the decrease in the availability and increasing precariousness of waged labour.
Deadline for proposals: 2 June 2017