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Stuck in the short term: immobility and temporalities of care among Florenese migrants in Sabah, Malaysia

Allerton, Catherine ORCID: 0000-0002-1463-4157 (2020) Stuck in the short term: immobility and temporalities of care among Florenese migrants in Sabah, Malaysia. Ethnos, 85 (2). 208 - 223. ISSN 0014-1844

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Identification Number: 10.1080/00141844.2018.1543338


In Sabah, East Malaysia, decades of informal migration, combined with increasingly strict immigration regulations, have led to a paradoxical situation of immobility. Impoverished eastern Indonesian migrants find themselves ‘stuck’, unable either to return home and build a house in their home village, or to plan for a future in Malaysia. Their Sabah-born children are born migrants, excluded from Malaysian schools, but mostly lacking knowledge of their parents’ Indonesian homes. The paper discusses the narratives of three migrant families from east Flores, exploring how practices of care are intertwined with control exerted by the state, employers, and non-migrant kin in places of origin. It argues that many families have been led, by necessity, to emphasise short-term care and physical proximity with children over long-term care such as investment in education. However, the continued significance of Florenese commitments to land and houses can make living in the short-term morally problematic.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2019 The Author
Divisions: Anthropology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
Date Deposited: 22 Oct 2018 12:04
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 00:16
Funders: Economic & Social Research Council

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