Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The end is the beginning...

Already a week has passed since the end of a hectic academic year.
Now I should really get started with my summer project!

During this summer break –which is the first break, and also probably be the last- I plan to pursue an independent research into three topics that are dear to my heart and soul. Migration, Gender, and Asia.
I will be looking closely into the issue of Asian migrant women and their economic empowerment, by combining internship and field research in non-profits from key Asian countries.

Why migrant women in Asia?
I look forward to answer this question in more detail in the coming weeks, but let me just throw in quick facts and thoughts for now.
Nearly half of Asia’s migrants are women. They take different forms such as migrant workers (mostly domestic workers) and marriage migrants, and they hold varied motives for migration. Some form new families, while others leave their children behind. Numerous structural discrimination and violence that surround females and migrants altogether are complicated in these migrant women’s situation.

These may sound too general and broad. One of my friend who I had lunch with yesterday musingly remarked; “Isn’t that way too obvious? I mean the conclusion of your study will be something like- community organizing, government support, social consensus, right?”.

Well… that may be true after all!
But for the moment, I suppress all desires to jump into hasty conclusion. Rather, I hope to develop perspectives and sensitivities toward the lives of Asia’s migrant women, at least for the next three months.
However invisible and powerless they may be right now, there is no doubt that these women are changing the face of global migration. We cannot live without them. How would middle class families and professional women around the globe raise their children without domestic workers? How would bachelors from rural villages or lower working class in South Korea, Japan, Taiwan (and increasingly China!) have chances of marrying, without women from poorer Southeast Asia?

So as warm-up for my project, I plan to consult exemplary works by several outstanding scholars in this field. They include:

And finally, scholarly works by Hyun Mee KIM, Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Yonsei University, who is also my dearest teacher. She has done pioneering research on studying Southeast Asian migrant women in Korea, and I am personally indebted to her for my interests in this field since 2005.