Library Header Image
LSE Research Online LSE Library Services

Geographies of bodily (dis)possession: domestic work, unfreedom, and spirit possessions in Singapore

Antona, Laura ORCID: 0000-0002-1283-2838 (2024) Geographies of bodily (dis)possession: domestic work, unfreedom, and spirit possessions in Singapore. Annals of the American Association of Geographers. ISSN 2469-4452

[img] Text (Antona_geographies-of-bodily--published) - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (757kB)

Identification Number: 10.1080/24694452.2024.2310106


Singapore’s labor-migration regime has come under much scrutiny for the ways in which it unequally positions employers vis-à-vis their migrant “workers.” One domestic worker, Rosamie, described the work permit she was issued as a “curse,” as it bound her to her employers as property, leaving her vulnerable to exploitation and violence. Drawing on ethnographic research, this article argues that multiscalar geographies of bodily (dis)possession are produced by Singapore’s labor-migration regime, which shape migrant domestic workers’ everyday lives. By engaging directly with the concepts of possession and dispossession, this article reveals the ways in which migrant domestic workers are themselves rendered bodily possessions in Singapore; with the state, employers, employment agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and ghosts all involved in creating this dynamic. Indeed, as I demonstrate, the permanence, freedoms, and authority of both employers and (shelter-based) ghosts stood in stark contrast to the disposability, unfreedom, and powerlessness that domestic workers (particularly those residing in shelters) often experienced and felt. I also explain how domestic workers’ lack of autonomy and bodily (dis)possession was (re)produced at different geographic scales: within the nation, individual dwelling spaces, and the body.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2024 The Author
Divisions: Geography & Environment
Subjects: J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation
Date Deposited: 24 Jan 2024 12:18
Last Modified: 01 Apr 2024 08:40

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics