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Please click here for our May 2014 newsletter: Growing older in postcolonial settings Lifestyle migration in East Asia Newsletter No2 May2014
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Of the reasons given for moving to Malaysia or Thailand, ones most frequently cited include:
Some respondents contrasted their experiences of Malaysia or Thailand with where they had previously lived, mostly in reference to the UK. Some of these reasons concerned cheaper costs than when they had lived elsewhere. For example, one respondent stated that they would “have opportunities to travel in this part of the world more cheaply than we could from the UK”. Other reasons related to weather differences, for example, one respondent gave the “miserable weather in the UK” as a reason. In interviews and on the expat forums the discussions often centre around why migrants no longer wanted to live in theUK. One respondent told us he considers the UK to be over-taxed and over-controlled. Another said ‘people are just so depressed there’.
(Thanks to Rowena Viney, Loughborough University, for analysing the survey data)
Scholars are increasingly drawing attention to the difficulties that lifestyle migrants experience in their pursuit of happiness. It seem they are not always the affluent, powerful, privileged post-colonials that is assumed. Of course, that is why Michaela Benson and I define lifestyle migration as the movement of the relatively affluent. If we had understood lifestyle migration to consistently be characterized by absolute wealth, we would have spoken simply of affluent people, and not bothered with the adjective ‘relative’. As time goes by and the global financial crisis takes shape in the reconfiguring of social structures and social positioning, the liminal status of some migrants becomes apparent. The incredible manipulations and machinations that go into managing migration to ensure the state includes the sought-after and excludes the less desirable has some interesting and perhaps unexpected side-effects.
Karen O’Reilly will be talking about some of these issues at a talk at Compas, Oxford, on 27th February 2014.
I have been thinking again about Women’s Organizations in Malaysia (and Thailand) and the work they do, and the ways in which they deal with nationality. Reading some of the literature on feminist women’s organizations, there is apparently some debate about whether or not an organization can consider itself part of the feminist women’s movement. Some people argue that any group that organizes itself to support women is part of the feminist movement. You may wish to read this article by Patricia Martin, published in Gender and Society: http://www.webpages.uidaho.edu/~tcraig/Yancey-Martin.pdf
Many women’s organizations act in support of women’s rights around the world, and therefore a sense of equality and inclusion is a central ethos, irrespective of race, nationality class, etc. So, debates about who to include (what nationalities, migrants or locals, etc) can challenge the ethos of a women’s organization.
I have also been reading about a method called ‘Memory Work’. It is a great way to work in groups to raise consciousness about a specific issue (such as race, ethnicity, nationality). Women in Malaysia might like to use it in their organizations. Let me know if you do!
First you decide on a topic of which you each have some experience, however small or apparently trivial (race in Malaysia, for example). Then individually you write a short story in the third person describing an experience you had related to that topic. You don’t analyse or interpret the experience, or try to make any sense of it at this stage. But do include small details and lots of description.
Next, you share the stories with each other in a group. Together you:
1)Look for similarities and differences in the stories, and for themes that emerge.
2)Discuss the shared cultural ideas, assumptions, ways of doing things, ways of seeing things as individuals and as groups of people, that the stories reveal.
3)Discuss what things have not been said, what are the silences
4) Discuss how things could be done differently (I added this last one).
I am no expert on the subject of memory work; I have to thank my colleague Dr Line Nyhagen Predelli for telling me a little about it. You can read more here:
Niamh Stephenson (2005). Living history, undoing linearity: Memory-work as a research method in the social sciences’. International Journal of Social Research Methodology 8 (1): 33-45.