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Migrant Labour and the Politics of Immobilisation: Cambodian Fishermen in Thailand

In: Asian Journal of Social Science
Author: Annuska Derks1
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  • 1 Bern University
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Abstract

Cambodian migrant workers in the Thai fishing industry are increasingly portrayed as the new ‘victims of trafficking’ and as ‘sea slaves’ who are ‘forced to fish,’ but are at the same time considered to be unruly and mobile workers who squander their earnings. Instead of being a result of separate migration streams or distinct groups of migrants, this article shows that these contradictions are inherent to the processes in which essentially mobile workers are immobilised at the place of destination. These immobilisation processes take place at different levels and should be understood in relation to the specificities of work in the fishing sector in general as well as the particular (migrant) labour system that has developed in certain sectors of the Thai labour market, leading to the creation of a flexible, disposable workforce that is bound to the work on Thai fishing vessels.

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