In pre-pandemic times, the labour migration regime in Asia based on principles of enforced transience is largely dependent on the ease and low cost of transnational mobility across national borders. Stalled mobility in COVID-19 times has both deepened the precarity that transient migrant workers face and also laid bare the unsustainability of the temporary migration for nation-states. At the same time, the pandemic presents an opportunity to reconfigure and move temporary migration toward a more sustainable and equitable basis. This could involve offering visas and contracts of longer duration and selective pathways towards residency status to reduce ‘churning’, incorporating migrant workers into national healthcare safety nets to improve migrant welfare and societal resilience, and careful recalibration of using automation and technological substitutes to augment migrant labour.
About the speaker
Brenda S. A. Yeoh FBA is Raffles Professor of Social Sciences, Department of Geography, as well as the Research Leader of the Asian Migration Cluster at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore. Her research interests include the politics of space in colonial and postcolonial cities, and she also has considerable experience working on a wide range of migration research in Asia, including key themes such as cosmopolitanism and highly skilled talent migration; gender, social reproduction and care migration; migration, national identity and citizenship issues; globalising universities and international student mobilities; and cultural politics, family dynamics and international marriage migrants. She has published widely in these fields.
Co-hosted with the International Migration Research Centre.