Follow the Maid: Domestic Worker Migration from Indonesia
by Olivia Killias
This fascinating study unveils the workings of the Indonesian migration regime, one that sends hundreds of thousands of women abroad as domestic workers each year. Drawing on extended ethnographic research since 2007, the book literally follows migrant women from one particular village in Central Java and tracks the moral, social, economic and legal processes by which they are turned into 'maids’. From recruitment by local brokers to the 'training’ received in secluded camps in Jakarta, employment in gated middle-class homes in Malaysia and back home again, Olivia Killias highlights the implications of the migration process on gendered practices of labour mobility (and immobilisation). She also reveals the disciplinary power that states, recruitment agencies and employers exercise over migrant domestic workers as well as highlighting frictions within the system.
Killias’s analysis demonstrates that ironically, the “legalisation” of the migration industry, under the joint pressures of the Indonesian migration bureaucracy and international humanitarian agencies, does not automatically improve the situation of the women who embark on the migration adventure. Rather, Killias unmasks the gendered moralizing discourses on “illegal” migration and “trafficking” as legitimizing indentured labour and constraining migrant mobility. By exploring the workings of the Indonesian state’s overseas legal labour migration regime for migrants, she brings the reader directly into the nerve-racking lives of migrant village women, and reveals the richness and ambiguity of their experiences, going beyond stereotypical representations of them as “victims of trafficking”.
'”On the whole, the book is a rich ethnographic account of the Indonesian migration regime particularly, unveiling the experience of migration by grasping migrant women’s aspirations and their distinct orientation towards future. The author has very carefully documented the narratives that contribute to a more nuanced understanding of the multi-layered process of migration. The book is an interesting reading and will be of immense interest for scholars working on gender and labour issues.” - Ellina Samantroy, Asian Journal of Social Science
Olivia Killias is a senior lecturer at the Institute of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies, University of Zurich, and has extended research experience in Indonesia and Malaysia. Her work has focused on the moral economies of migration, domestic worker migration in and from Indonesia, the negotiation of suspicion and surveillance in the Iranian diaspora in Malaysia, and ethnographic film.
Publication year: 2017
252 pp / 229mm x 152mm
ISBN: 978-87-7694-227-4, Paperback
ISBN: 978-87-7694-226-7, Hardback