RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2015

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143 Exploring the Migration Industries (2)
Affiliation Population Geography Research Group
Convenor(s) Sophie Cranston (Loughborough University, UK)
Chair(s) Sophie Cranston (Loughborough University, UK)
Timetable Thursday 03 September 2015, Session 2 (11:10 - 12:50)
Room Forum - Seminar Room 9
Session abstract In this ‘age of migration’ (Castles and Millar 2009) research on migration tends to focus on why migrants leave home and what happens to them when they arrive. However, two recent developments in studies of migration challenge this conceptualisation. First, from a mobilities perspective we challenge such sedendarist understandings and see migration as being like a journey where we explore how migrant identity is produced on the move (Cresswell 2006). Second, from a more structuralist approach, we have begun to explore the commercialisation of migration— how migration is mediated by businesses as diverse as brokers, security companies, transporters, non-governmental organisations, recruitment agencies and international human resource management (Gammeltoft-Hansen and Sorenson 2013). We can see research on the migration industries as looking at the provision of services that facilitate, constrain and assist international migration, the central role that industries play in shaping and constraining contemporary mobility patterns and mobile identities.

This session is aimed at those wishing to present research that advances our understanding of the operation of the migration industries from a variety of perspectives. This could include research that looks at:

• Theoretical perspectives on migration industries;
• Empirical examples of migration industries;
• Explanations between different types of migration industries;
• The relationship between the state and migration industries;
• How migration industries mediate patterns of mobility;
• How migration industries shape experiences of mobility.

Castles, S., and M. J. Miller. 2009. The age of migration : international population movements in the modern world. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Cresswell, T. 2006. On the move: Mobility in Modern Western World. New York; London: Taylor Francis Group.
Gammeltoft-Hansen, T. and N. Nyberg Sorenson. Eds. 2013. The Migration Industry and the Commercialization of International Migration. London: Routledge
Linked Sessions Exploring the Migration Industries (1)
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2015@rgs.org
Producing Migrant Categories: The Third Culture Kid Industry
Sophie Cranston (Loughborough University, UK)
In this paper, I look at how the Third Culture Kid Industry (TCK) industry works to shape the TCK as an identity. TCKs are children who have spent a considerable part of their childhood growing up in a different cultural context from that of their parents’ passport country. In the paper, I look at the practices of the TCK industry in how they work to manage the emotional experience of having lived abroad as a child, specifically the grief of frequent mobility and the insecurity of identity that this produces. Drawing upon Sara Ahmed’s work on the sociality of emotions, the paper will argue that the industry operates specifically through a reading of the shared emotional experience of having being globally mobile as a child, with the category or identity TCK produced through this as ‘comfort.’

In doing so, the paper argues that research on migration industries needs to further explore how these industries produce the experiences of migration, drawing upon research that looks at migrant identities as well as structures. In looking at the constitution of migration practices then, this paper highlights the need for an understanding of how migrant categories like ‘TCK’ are produced and given meaning by those who mediate the experience of everyday migrant lives.
Investigating the Geographies of Selling a UK Higher Education
Suzanne Beech (The University of Hull, UK)
Of late we have witnessed the rapid development of the international student mobility literature, however this research has often been written from the perspective of the students themselves, focusing on their motivations for overseas study. It is not unsurprising that this has gone hand-in-hand with the unprecedented growth in international student numbers over the last three decades in particular. There are now extensive international knowledge networks which offer prospective students the opportunity to study (almost) anywhere they wish, provided they have the capital to do so. It has been shown that these international students can contribute significantly to the local economy, as well as offering an additional funding source for the universities themselves (see Brown et al. 2010; Madge et al. 2009; Gribble 2008). Competition for their recruitment is therefore a big business and yet there has been little research conducted into the role of international education agents in promoting overseas education and encouraging international students in the selection of their universities. This paper seeks to redress this imbalance by investigating the preliminary findings from interviews conducted with university international office staff and their subcontracted education agents to show how they use geography and place as a USP for prospective international students.
Facilitating labour migration from Latvia: strategies of various categories of intermediaries
Oksana Zabko (Baltic Institute of Social Sciences, Riga)
Aadne Aasland (Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research, Norway)
Silvi Birgit Endresen (University of Oslo, Norway)
The new regulatory environments in Latvia and the EU as well as in migrant destination countries have spurred a quest for new strategies of intermediaries that facilitate migration. Regulations, however, vary. Whereas regulations in Latvia become more lenient, regulations in the EU and in Norway become stricter; manoeuvring between the contemporary regulatory regimes is thus challenging.
Intermediaries, among which temp agencies is an important category, operate in highly competitive markets. And companies demanding labour in destination countries experience over-abundance of migrant labour due to the economic crisis, forming a “buyer’s labour market” that represents a challenge for temp agencies. This paper describes the effects of regulatory changes and explores the strategies applied by middlemen. As regulations tighten, some intermediaries confirm, others seek to create loopholes. Another strategy of labour “export” is when the concept of “posted worker” may, for all practical purposes, denote the same as “temp agency worker”, due to be covered by different regulations. (A construction company in Latvia may hire workers for the single purpose of sending them abroad.)
Furthermore, circular migration from Latvia is on the increase and the intermediaries also try to explore the opportunities this may create. The paper explores the categories needed to describe and analyze migration facilitators, from formal temp agencies to informal networks. An objective of the paper is, based on examples, to create typologies of middlemen, including, their adaptation and avoiding strategies to regulations. This is the first step in an analysis of migration from Latvia that explores experiences of intermediaries as well as migrant workers to Norway based on interviews with stakeholders in sending and receiving countries.
Exploring a migrant finance industry: low paid migrants and financial access in London
Kavita Datta (Queen Mary University of London, UK)
Scholars have become increasingly attentive to the role that migrant industries play in facilitating mobility. Predominant avenues of research include the role of migration brokers in arranging passage from home to host countries, as well as recruitment agents in facilitating access to work. To date, however, relatively little attention has been afforded to a migrant finance industry which mediates financial access for migrant men and women in host communities. Yet, given the financialization of advanced economies such as the UK, financial access (particularly in relation to banking and credit) is critical in shaping migrant access to work, housing and general well-being. Drawing upon research conducted with five migrant communities in London, this paper identifies the key actors and institutions involved in this ‘business’; the ways in which migrant workers utilise these services and the impact that migrant status has on mediating these relationships.
Securing Circulation: Privatized Migration Management in Singapore
Joshua Kurz (National University of Singapore, Singapore)
Singapore has passed and implemented interlaced and mutually-dependent legislation – including the Immigration Act, the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, the Employment Agencies Act, and others – which provide the legal framework for migration management, including its privatization. Together they impose significant restrictions on migrant everyday life. Such measures form what the government frames as a set of pragmatic responses to migration, which belongs to the larger problem of the organizing and securing of economic circulation (Foucault 2007).

The practical framework for migration management is enacted through a diverse range of actors and sites that include overseas training facilities, labor recruitment agencies/agents, private-sector employers, the Singapore Police Force, auxiliary police (private security that have full police powers), the vigilante corps (volunteer force with limited police powers), and other private and semi-private actors. Each of these employs an array of apparatuses that result in migrants concurrently experiencing a) a dense grid of legal geography, b) a heavily striated social geography, c) a complex archipelago of labor geography, and d) a residential geography that pulls toward specific ‘gravitational centers’ – namely worker dormitories.

Migration management in Singapore is thus both highly privatized and spatialized, and it is interwoven into everyday life and day-to-day business practices in ways that belie its commodification as a ‘migration industry’ (Hernandez-Leon 2013, 2005). This paper explores these relationships and situates privatized migration management as a mechanism that transforms Singapore into a single terrain of production in which there is no distinction between commercial production and social production (Hardt and Negri 2000). In short, it explores the intertwined transformations and spatialities of the migration industries, contemporary capitalism, and state power. This paper draws on fieldwork in Singapore as well as analysis of policy and legal documents.

Works Cited:

Foucault, M. 2007. Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the College de France, 1977-1978. Edited by Michel Senellart. Translated by Graham Burchell. New York: Picador.

Hardt, M. and Negri, A. 2000. Empire. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Hernandez-Leon, R. 2013 (September 27). “The Migration Industry of Migration Control.” antiAtlas des Frontieres. Accessed 29 January 2015 from http://www.antiatlas.net/en/2013/09/27/the-migration-industry-of-migration-control-ruben-hernandez-leon-ucla/.

Hernandez-Leon, R. 2005. “The Migration Industry in the Mexico-U.S. Migratory System. California Center for Population Research On-Line Working Paper Series. Accessed 10 November 2013 from http://escholarship.org/uc/item/3hg44330#page-2