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"Myths of the Pendatang: Politics of Refugees and Temporariness in the Global South"

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Miller Learning Center, Room 248

This talk provides an in-depth exploration of the lives of refugees and migrants, based on in-depth ethnographic research conducted in Malaysia, which is home to an estimated 8 million foreigners (and over half a million displaced/forced migrants).  The focus is on how migrant, displaced and undocumented groups and communities play vital roles economically yet continue to face significant structural and institutional challenges in host countries where formal recognition is nonexistent.  Refugee and displaced groups such as the Rohingya, perceived as 'illegals' in Malaysian society, contribute crucially to the economy and culture, yet grapple with exploitation, invisibility, and the denial of rights. This presentation aims to dispel common stereotypes about refugee and migrant life in the Global South by revealing the intricate, individual stories that challenge broad generalizations and offer a more nuanced understanding of forced migration within the Global South.

Sponsored by: Workshop on Culture, Power, and History and the Willson Center for the Humanities and Arts

Speaker Bio: Dr. Muniandy holds a BA, PhD, University of Illinois and his research focuses on temporary labor migration in Southeast Asia and South Asia; particular interest in exploring how new regimes of migration are emerging, under which “temporary labor” migrants are becoming increasingly commonplace in fast-developing societies in Asia, and how informality and informal practices become important elements that affect the lives of migrant women and men. Author of Politics of the Temporary: Ethnography of Migrant life in Urban Malaysia (2015) and peer-reviewed articles in International Sociology, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies and Asian Journal of Social Science. Former appointments: Lecturer of Global Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. SLC, 2017–

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