Fettered Mobility and Translocality: Irregular Migrant Farm Workers in Taiwan

 04/25/2024 / 04/25/2024

 14:00pm - 17:00pm
 Room 2B, Research Center for Humanities and Social sciences, Academia Sinica, Taipei
Isabelle Cockel (University of Portsmouth)

The French Centre for Research on Contemporary China (CEFC), Taipei Office organise the following conference:

Speaker: Isabelle Cockel (University of Portsmouth)

Isabelle Cockel is Senior Lecturer in East Asian and International Development Studies at the University of Portsmouth. Her research focuses on labour and marriage migration in East Asia. She focuses on how the state instrumentalises immigration for political and economic interests. She has published about sovereignty, citizenship, gender, activism, and irregular farm work in the informal labour market. She particularly utilises academic blogs to raise public awareness of inequality and injustice embedded in labour migration. Taking gender as an approach, she also studies the Cold War in East Asia. Using women broadcasters as a case study, she focuses on how the propaganda broadcasting on the radio constructs an ideological soundscape across the Taiwan Strait. She is currently the Secretary-General of the European Association of Taiwan Studies (2018-2025). She is an Associate Editor of Asia Pacific Viewpoint and a member on the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Taiwan Studies.


(co-authored with Dr Beatrice Zani and Mr Jonathan Parhusip)

Investigating the multi-layered mobility of Southeast Asian irregular farm work­ers in rural Taiwan, this article examines the formation of their mobility in a phys­ical, geographical, occupational and socio-economic sense. Focusing on frequent movement in these four aspects, this article coins the term ‘fettered mobility’ for workers’ constant relocation in the villages’ informal farm labour market. In tandem with the ongoing transformations of migration at the crossroad between the legal, social and economic obstacles dictated by nation states and the market, and new patterns of movement, this article shows how ‘fettered mobility’ is an unintentional result of the Taiwanese state’s mobility regime, which regulates foreign nationals’ mobility by categorizing a hierarchical legal status. Fettered mobility is facilitated by the translocal migrant community constituted by the co-ethnic link between migrant workers and migrant spouse farmers, and also by the inter-ethnic link between the migrant community on the one hand and Taiwanese farmers and unlicensed brokers on the other. When migration is reconfiguring at a global, regional and local scale, fettered mobility is an assem­blage in which the state, market and individual amalgamate into a networked, mobile, irregular and precarious labour force in which unprotected migrant work­ers are vulnerable to the state’s power to repatriate. Repatriation is an omnipresent threat, and anyone who knows of a migrant worker’s fettered mobility can put an end to their migration. Presenting fettered mobility as an assemblage, this article enriches the ongoing debate on the relationship between mobility and immobility and underlines its conditionality and instability.

This seminar will be held in English.
Corrado Neri, Director of the CEFC Taipei, will chair the session.

On site & online zoom: https://reurl.cc/Xqnd70