Home and Away: Indonesian Women and Their Unique Transnational Migration Experiences in Malaysia explores the migration processes and experiences of female labor migrants from Indonesia to Malaysia’s manufacturing sector. Their stories depict labor migration as a process shaped by the intersection of external, structural forces, and individual desires and motivations.
Labor migration was valued and evaluated as an “investment”, one that was calculated not only in terms of financial security but also in relation to personal rewards and experiences unavailable to them at home. These labor migrants negotiated a number of externally imposed demands and conditions, ranging from migration regulations, the challenges of settlement in a new city, factory floor relations, and the negative stereotypes attached to female Indonesian migrant workers in Malaysia. Such constraints did not simply result in their sense of victimization, as the interviews revealed the women’s capacity to resist, negotiate, and comply with such factors.
Home and Away: Indonesian Women and Their Unique Transnational Migration Experiences in Malaysia distinguishes between two groups of migrants: inexperienced, first-time migrants, and experienced repeat migrants. The author explores the processes and experiences of transnational labor migration based on the stories of a group of Indonesian female factory workers.
In keeping with a commitment to bring into conversation the structure, corporeal and cognitive elements of female labor migration, it highlights the interplay between the factors that structure migration and channel Indonesian women into distinct migration pathways and individual migrant’s motivations, desires, and responses. Close attention is paid to the perspectives of groups in this transnational labor migration, including employers, government officials, labor agents, and the female migrants themselves, categorized as first-timers and repeat migrants.
Several questions help orient this discussion such as policy applications and implications of transnational labor migration to Malaysia and how they negotiate international migration, from recruitment to finding employment and settlement. Other questions are how Indonesian women define and describe their employment, pre- and post-migration, and perceive local representation. To what extent do Indonesian migrants influence local citizen’s representations?
Finally, the author examined the distinctive characteristics of first-timer and repeat migrants in experiencing migration.