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"How dare you talk back?!": Spatialised Power Practices in the Case of Indonesian Domestic Workers in Malaysia
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social and Economic Geography.
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

By taking the experiences and narratives of Indonesian women in Malaysia as the empirical material, this dissertation offers an analysis on spatialised power practices in the context of paid domestic workers. Family survival prompts these women to work abroad, but patriarchal norms shift their economic contribution as supplementary to the men’s role as the breadwinner. The interviews reveal that these women chose Malaysia as their destination country after having listened to oral stories, but despite the transnational mobility involved in their decisions, they are rendered immobile in the employers’ house.

Furthermore, the analysis shows an intricate ensemble of power relations in which gender, class and nationality/ethnicity interact with each other, inform and reproduce spatialised domination and labour exploitation practices by the employers. Immigration status of the workers, meanwhile, puts them in a subordinated position in relation to the employers, citizens of the host country. Without the recognition from the state on this particular form of embodied labour, the employers are responsible for defining the working conditions of the workers, leading to precarious conditions.

Findings on several resistance practices by the workers complete the analysis of power practices, where resistance is treated as an entangled part of power. Contributing to the study of gendered geographies of exploitation, the study identifies the home and the body as the main levels of analysis; meanwhile, practices at the national level by the state, media and recruitment/placement agencies and globalisation processes are identified as interrelated factors that legitimate the employers’ practices of exploitation.

Finally, the dissertation contributes to feminist geography analysis on gender, space, and power through South-South migration empirics.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Department of Social and Economic Geography, Uppsala University , 2016. , 205 p.
Geographica, ISSN 0431-2023 ; 12
Keyword [en]
feminist geography, paid domestic work, Indonesia, Malaysia, gender, migration, space, power, resistance, intersectionality
National Category
Social and Economic Geography
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-305651ISBN: 978-91-506-2604-9 (print)OAI: diva2:1038814
Public defence
2016-12-09, Hörsal 2, Ekonomikum, Kyrkogårdsgatan 10, Uppsala, 13:00 (English)
Available from: 2016-11-18 Created: 2016-10-20 Last updated: 2016-11-18

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Hierofani, Patricia Yocie
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