Introducing Dr Andy Scott Chang, SEAC Visiting Fellow and Assistant Professor of Sociology at the Singapore Management University.
1.What will you be working on during your time as SEAC Visiting Fellow?
I am working on a paper and on my book project. Based on a recently concluded ethnography project in Singapore and previous fieldwork in Indonesia, the paper explores how private employment agencies construct an international labor supply. My book manuscript, The Making of Global Care Workers: The Social Organization of Labor Migration in Indonesia, is an ethnography of global migration governance focusing on labor flows from Indonesia to Asian destinations. The manuscript explores how state and labor market intermediaries manufacture a pool of ideal workers, one that has catapulted the archipelago into the world’s largest labor supplier in home care.
2.What led you to your field of study/what inspired your interest in these topics?
There is a personal interest, as well as an intellectual one. In 1996, my ailing grandmother in Taiwan hired a Filipina caregiver named Dora. A college graduate in her late 20’s, Dora was among a pioneering generation of migrant domestic workers in the country. After Dora’s return to the Philippines, Ana, an Indonesian woman in her 30’s, cared for my grandmother for two years until her passing. Owing to our language barriers, however, my grandmother and I were ignorant of Ana’s social background. This episode in my family history informed my intellectual curiosity in graduate school. I wondered: how did Southeast Asian women workers, like Ana and Dora, end up in Taiwan, hitherto a nation of emigrants to Japan and the United States?
Through my research, I came to realize that my grandmother’s experience was not an isolated phenomenon. Indonesia, for example, has been a major labor provider since the formalization of its labor-export policy in the late 1970s. Today, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore are among the top four destinations for Indonesian guest workers in the world.
3. How do you like to relax and unwind?
I like taking long walks and traveling to diverse corners of the world. I enjoy exploring new cafes, shops, markets, and museums in interesting neighbourhoods, towns, and villages. In my spare time, I use photography to capture moments of joy.