Migration, Agrarian Transition, and Rural Change in Southeast Asia

Introduction

Author: Philip F. Kelly | guest editor

Abstract:

Intensifying migration flows add new material dimensions to agrarian change in Southeast Asia, with novel forms of livelihood for out-migrants from rural areas, remittance flows for those left behind, and new sources of agricultural labor in places of in-migration. But migration also brings other processes of change that push the analytical boundaries of traditional agrarian political economy. Gender identities are brought into question as men and women move and the masculinities and femininities of migrants and those left behind are reworked. The household is stretched across space and seen more clearly as a contested domain. The spatiality of the village is reworked through long-distance linkages, so that scales of analysis are not quite what they used to be. Issues of ethnic identity are foregrounded as different groups come into contact in the same place. The role of the state (and private recruiters) in regulating migration and in defining and controlling access to citizenship rights requires that new forms of regulation and institutionalism be addressed. In each of these ways, migration provides challenges to understanding rural change. In contextualizing the articles that appear in these two issues of Critical Asian Studies (December 2011 and March 2012), this introduction spells out both the empirical processes of migration and rural change in Southeast Asia and the analytical approaches that are relevant to studying them.

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December 2011
© Northwestern/Kellogg