Explores domestic worker migration in and from Indonesia, one of the main labour-sending countries in the world, in fine-grained ethnographic detail.
Follows the process of Indonesian women being recruited, trained, certified, sent abroad as domestic workers and returned home.
Provides key insights into the gendered control of mobility and labour in times of neoliberal globalization and makes an important contribution to decentering critical migration scholarship.
This finely observed study unveils the workings of the Indonesian migration regime, one that has sent hundreds of thousands of women abroad as domestic workers each year. Drawing on extended ethnographic research since 2007, the book literally follows migrant women from their recruitment by local brokers in a village in upland Central Java, via secluded 'training' camps in Jakarta, employment in gated middle-class homes within Indonesia and in Malaysia and back home again. Killias’ analysis uncovers the colonial genealogies of contemporary domestic worker migration and unmasks the gendered moralizing discourses on ‘illegal’ migration and ‘trafficking’ as constraining migrant mobility. By exploring the moral, social, economic and legal processes by which Indonesian women are turned into ‘maids’ for the global care economy, Olivia Killias brings the reader directly into the nerve-racking lives of migrant village women, and reveals the richness and ambiguity of their experiences, going beyond stereotypical representations of them as ‘victims of trafficking’.