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Negotiating Spaces


Kalpana Vishwanath

TRANSNATIONAL MIGRATION AND THE POLITICS OF IDENTITY
Edited by Meenakshi Thapan
Sage Publications, New Delhi, 2005, pp. 319, Rs. 385.00

VOLUME XXXI NUMBER 3 March 2007

According to The World Migration Report almost 50% of all migrants are women. This process termed as ‘the feminisation of migration’ has been rightly become the focus of many researches. Women migrants were traditionally seen as associational migrants, or migrating with men or their families. The increasing number and visibility of women in different occupations and countries has led to a spate of research into the understanding the phenomenon both from a macro level of movement in a globalizing world and individual women’s experiences at the micro level to understand notions of identity.   This volume under review is the first of a series of four volumes on women and migration in Asia, all based upon an international conference on women and migration that was held in New Delhi in December 2003. This volume focuses on the experience of migration at the transnational level with a special focus on women’s own experience of the process and life in their new home. The other volumes in the series examine how economic and social structure shape women’s possibilities and experiences of migration. They also explore the conditions of migration which lead to forced migration and violations of rights. The volumes all focus specifically on the experience of Asian women who constitute a large number of the women who are transnational migrants. In the introduction, Meenakshi Thapan lays out the terrain upon which women’s choices and experience of migration take place. The construction of the migrant woman is determined by several factors. Migrant, refugee, displaced person, illegal migrant, trafficked person—class and location determine how these different categories will be viewed. The educated, upper-middle-class professional woman who migrates for work, the woman who migrates for marriage, the woman migrating as labour into the export processing zone factory, the woman migrating for seasonal agricultural labour, domestic labour, sex work, entertainment—the list is vast. The experience of these women is different and is shaped by different circumstances and the position of the woman, her family, community, nation within a globalized economy and polity.   Thapan delineates the major debates and discourses around migrant women and locates how transnational identity for women is discursively constructed. It is a constant movement between memory on the one hand and the negotiations of everyday life on the other. It is not a fixed identity once and for all, but one that is negotiated and fluid. The essays in ...


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