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Does No One Care? Migration, Displacement, and Refugees in Southeast Asia

1530–1700, Saturday 16 April 2016, L3

Chair:
Khin Mar Mar Kyi
University of Oxford
ma.khinmarmarkyi@lmh.ox.ac.uk

List of Papers – Part 1:

  • Youth in Transregional Flows – an ethnography of the changing trajectory of foodways among young migrants across Malaysia.
  • Climate change and migration across the Bay of Bengal: Myanmar’s domestic constraints, gaps in protection, and need for proactive plans and policies
  • Newly-Arriving Rohingya: Integrating into Cross-Border Trade Networks in the Thai-Burma Borderland

List of Papers – Part 2:

  • Coming to terms with the Ahmadis? The Role of Local Administrators in the Process of Social Inclusion and Exclusion
  • The Role of State, Refugees, and Society in Creating Social Resilience: The Cases of Syiah in Sidoarjo and Ahmadiya in Mataram

 

Paper 1: Youth in Transregional Flows – an ethnography of the changing trajectory of foodways among young migrants across Malaysia.

Fangfang Li
University of Barcelona/University of Amsterdam
F.LI@uva.nl

Despite its brilliant achievement in economic development, Malaysia as a country in transition is still struggling with a series of severe health burdens – youth obesity is one of them. Obesity and its common health consequences (e.g. cardiovascular diseases) are known to be linked with one’s changed dietary choices and can intuitively lead to reduced quality of wellbeing of both individuals and societies. However, most studies on youth dietary change and its implications so far have merely relied on quantitative-oriented methods and little has been written on its connections with youth’s migratory trajectories in multi-element environments. This ethnography, with its primary concern rooted in dietary changes of rural-to-urban migrant youth from Segamat Malaysia, aims to provide a ground-breaking understanding of 1) how the initiation of youth’s dietary changes occur and progress over time and space; 2) how it interacts with factors at individual, household, community, societal and inter-generational levels; 3) how changes in roles, responsibilities and social relationships of the young in new environments suggest changes in their foodways; 4) What ‘social lives’ do foods, beverages and supplements have; and 5) what the roles of social policies, laws and public services play in shaping youth’s learning and practice of eating and drinking in Malaysia.

 

Paper 2: Climate change and migration across the Bay of Bengal: Myanmar’s domestic constraints, gaps in protection, and need for proactive plans and policies

Lauren Nishimura
University of Oxford
lauren.nishimura@seh.ox.ac.uk

Migration across the Bay of Bengal has a long history, but it has recently reemerged in the international spotlight, along with debates about the factors that have prompted thousands of people to risk their lives at sea rather than remain in Myanmar. Yet one factor contributing to this movement is often overlooked: climate change.

In the coming decades, migration across the Bay is likely to increase as the impacts of climate change become more frequent and severe. Myanmar’s food security is under threat from rising temperatures and sea level. It ranks amongst the most at risk countries on various global climate risk indicators, due to its perceived exposure to environmental impacts and lack of ability to adapt to climate change. Spatial and economic constraints, including restrictions on movement and livelihoods, reduce the adaptive capacity of the most vulnerable populations in Myanmar, exacerbating the impact of changing environmental conditions.

This paper examines Myanmar’s relevant laws and policies and argues that despite increasing foresight and awareness surrounding climate change and its impacts, Myanmar remains ill equipped to address the expected increase in migration. The scope and scale of migration produced will be extensive, although it will not always be easy to draw direct connections between environmental changes and the conditions that cause specific individuals to move. Nor will population movements be geographically confined. People will move internally and cross state borders. Accordingly, this paper explores the need for proactive domestic planning and policies and Myanmar’s participation in regional cooperation and dialogue.

 

Paper 3: Newly-Arriving Rohingya: Integrating into Cross-Border Trade Networks in the Thai-Burma Borderland

Kunnawut Boonreak
Chiang Mai University
kunnawut.b@gmail.com

This study was initiated as public attention was drawn to the discovery of the latest wave of Rohingya arrivals in Thailand. A number of Rohingya were found hidden in Mae Sot, a city in the Thai-Burma borderland, with the help of a local Muslim network. In the longer term, these refugees will attempt to find jobs, but the process is complicated, as they must have work permits in order to be employed legally. Members of the comparatively well-to-do, established Rohingya community in Mae Sot are clearly unable to support every newly-arriving Rohingya. Some of the more established Rohingya assist by utilizing their social capital to contact cross-border trade networks so new Rohingya can work as laborers at a large warehouse in Rim Moei Port, where owners are mostly Pakistani or Arakanese Muslim.

This paper explores the cross-border trade network, an essential network for Rohingya people. In the borderland context where the sovereign power of the Thai state is not always absolute, power can overlap with local influences, including government officers or businessmen who are often Muslim and willing to give job opportunities to Rohingya migrants. Cultural capital such as shared languages and religion, which are a huge part of their ethnic identity, is an important factor that enables Rohingya to integrate into the borderland network. It can also lead to life-changing opportunities.

 

Paper 4: Coming to terms with the Ahmadis? The Role of Local Administrators in the Process of Social Inclusion and Exclusion

Dina Diana
University of Passau
deegus03@yahoo.com

One example of the ongoing issue concerning the problem of social inclusion and exclusion in
Indonesia is the rights of the Ahmadiyah Community, a minority Islamic sect. The presence of
the Ahmadiyah community in a certain locality will most likely encounter sharp opposition from
the local people. Accordingly, it is not uncommon that they are fully excluded from the social
interaction. One particularly important actor for the analysis of the process of inclusion and
exclusion in this case is the state actor, the local administrators. Hence, it is necessary to
critically examine the role of the local administrators in dealing with the conflict between the
social groups and how they frame the social practices of inclusion and exclusion on the ground.
By focusing on the negotiation process between the local administrators and the conflicting
social groups, it shall be shown that instead of solving the conflict, the local administrator
becomes a manifestation of a social group of its own which has the power to include and exclude
people. It further examines that not only do these social groups fight to achieve religious control,
but, most importantly, they also want to control social interaction. The aim of the proposed paper
is to analyse the struggle between different social groups in defining social control and
interaction, what strategies and resources the use, how the process of negotiations conducted by
the actors, particularly by the state actor, and how the process of inclusion and exclusion could
lead to violence.

 

Paper 5: The Role of State, Refugees, and Society in Creating Social Resilience: The Cases of Syiah in Sidoarjo and Ahmadiya in Mataram

Nostalgiawan Wahyudhi
The Indonesian Institute of Science (LIPI)
wan_jauzy@yahoo.com

This study comparatively evaluates how the pattern of relations of the state, society and the displaced victims of the sectarian conflicts in the case of displaced community of Shia in Sidoarjo and Ahmadiyya in Mataram that have a susceptible social life in order to normalize their life socially, spiritually, and economically so that they have immunity to be resistant to other potential conflict. This study uses generative structuralism of Bourdieu to describe, analyze, and provide genesis of social actors and social structure based on rational thinking between the role of the agency and structure in view of practices of social actors. This article will examine five aspects that potentially related to creation of social resilience within the displaced community of Shia in Sidoarjo and Ahmadiyya in Mataram. First, the relation of social-political actors such as local government, ulamas (Tuan Guru), public figures, preman, and the leader of displaced communities. These actors are in fact competing each other in gaining influence and authority over the refugees (victims) to strengthen their social identity that actually have a crucial impact on the formation of social resilience. Second, the effectiveness of socio-religious organization to handle the displaced communities. In this case, Shia refugees are supported by organizational dualism of Ahlul Bait Indonesia (ABI) and the Association of Jemaah Ahlul Bait Indonesia (IJABI) that at some point both institutions have a tug of interest and have impact on refugee protections. On the other hand, the Ahmadiyya refugees celebrate an effective and integrated organizational mechanism and service from national structure of Jemaah Ahmadiyah Indonesia (JAI) and the UK-based international networks both spiritually and economically. Third, the patronage of social-political environment. The patronage system that is formed in the place of origin of the conflict or where the refugees are located. It can be seen in Ulama-society patronage in which scholars have a very influential authority to social change and upheaval in society or Ulama-preman patronage in which they socially and theologically have significant differences (especially Ulama as moral agents and preman as non-moralists agents) but able to form a political alliance that has an impact on social changes. Fourth, the social character of refugee of religious minority conflicts that tends to live in an enclave society so they have a limited relationship with the surrounding communities socially, economically and spiritually. This will be explained within the socio-religious system, socio-economic backgrounds and educational levels that potentially make them difficult to blend into the environment. Fifth, the character of the government that is reflected from the elected local government (governor) and the ruling party that rationally and maximally will maintain the support of constituents through mainstream political and, in this case, religious affiliations. This study will provide a comprehensive overview of the formation of social resilience in the case of refugees from religious minority conflicts of Shia in Sidoarjo and Ahmadiyya in Mataram.