The ANU Southeast Asia Institute Research Seminar Series is a recurring seminar series that showcases the work of scholars within the ANU working on political, social and cultural issues in Southeast Asia, with the goal of encouraging greater exchange, collaboration and networking amongst the research community.
Migrant workers’ literature from Southeast Asia
The flourishing of migrant workers’ literature from Southeast Asia provides insights into understanding vulnerabilities and human security through the voices of the migrant themselves, which are not necessarily painted in victimhood narratives.
This talk examines Southeast Asian working-class subject-hood through migrant workers’ literature, particularly those by women authors who work as domestic helpers. By focusing on Inter-Asia migration, instead of the usual focus on migration from the global South to the North, this talk addresses the experience of ‘precarious cosmopolitanism’ of the migrant workers in/from Southeast Asia who migrated from their less-developed home states to places such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Malaysia.
It examines their literary writings (fiction, poems, autobiographical works) and considers their act of writing not as an isolated aesthetical pursuit but a quotidian strategy of living and engaging, alongside other ventures and activities. The talk will also compare the literary infrastructures and agents in the host societies that facilitate the publication of migrant workers’ literature.
Dr Ying Xin Show is a Lecturer at the School of Culture, History and Language, and Deputy Director of the Malaysia Institute at the College of Asia and the Pacific, the Australian National University. Her work explores the history and culture of migration, decolonisation, and the impact of the Cold War on Asian societies through literature and the arts. Her current book project examines the cultural history of Chinese literature in Malaya during the Cold War. She co-edited (with Ngoi Guat Peng) Revisiting Malaya: Uncovering Historical and Political Thoughts in Nusantara (2020) and authored the Chinese translation of Singapore writer Alfian Sa’at’s flash fiction collection Malay Sketches (2020,2022). Recently she was awarded the ARC DECRA fellowship (2023-2026).
Contact the Southeast Asia Institute Research Series Conveners:
· Björn Dressel at firstname.lastname@example.org
· Nicholas Chan at email@example.com