CFP – ARI Workshop on The Migration Industry: Facilitators and Brokerage in Asia



The Migration Industry: Facilitators and Brokerage in Asia


Date                      1-2 June 2017

Venue                  Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore

ARI Seminar Room, AS8 Level 4 , 10 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119260




The migration industry signals both the privatization of migration infrastructures and the increasingly formalized involvement of brokers and agents in migration. It comes as no surprise that the “migrant-broker” or agent has emerged as an important player to understand the dynamics involved in migrant trajectories. While the work of migrants as informal brokers persists – mainly based on the observation that low-skilled migrants pay a considerable price for their services – it has also been observed that without their involvement migration would often simply not be possible. At the same time, an increasing number of brokers operate within formalized networks and/or as part of professional organizations. As such we argue that an understanding of migrant brokers needs to go beyond kinship ties and clientelism and incorporate an understanding of how such networks and organizations operate within the transnational sphere of migration flows. Our aim is to zoom into mediation processes, institutional practice, and multiple activities of “micro-brokerage” involved in the facilitation of migration as well as the infrastructural support of the migration industry.


We are looking for critically and empirically engaged work in the broadly defined topic of migration brokerage, with a specific focus on the role, knowledge practice, and activities of agents, brokers and other types of facilitators. Papers within the context of Asia or dealing with Asian migrants in other parts of the world are welcome. We invite proposals that explore one or more of the following lines of inquiry:

  • Knowledge Practice: Who are these actors involved in the process of facilitating migration? What types of narratives and rationales influence their practices of knowledge construction and utilization? What forms of knowledge and data become critical to everyday practices of brokering? Is their knowledge of brokerage used instrumentally, symbolically or strategically? How do these actors and institutions engaged in brokerage manage commercial uncertainties of migration recruitment and placement?
  • Bureaucratic and Documentation Regime: How does bureaucratic documentation contribute to specific practices of brokerage within the migration industry? What brokerage artifacts, forms, documents and paperwork account for the increasing commercialization of the mediation process in migration? How are highly specific rules and regulations and their concomitant processes and demands of documentation productive in protecting the rights and safety of migrants? Are there also negative consequences for migrants? And how does the interplay of such demands and associated (social, financial) consequences find itself reproduced in the actual functioning of the industry itself?
  • Socialization and Organizations: If the migration industry is embedded in the commercialization of international migration and through mediation, it is also fundamentally a social process of becoming rather than a state of being or knowing. If so, what does this process look like in practice and what are the consequences for migrants across Asia? What organizations make up the migration industry as a whole? How do organizational approaches to brokering complement, overlap with, and differ from practices that individual and independently operating brokers are engaged in?
  • Mobility and Finance Infrastructure: In order to keep the flow of millions of migrant workers across Asia in motion, a vast and efficient immobile infrastructure is necessary both in receiving and sending countries. The most visible faces of this infrastructure are brokers and agents, but what other businesses are involved in the operation of the large migration industry machinery? What costs do migrants and brokers have to incur in order to make migration possible?





Submissions should include a title, an abstract of no more than 250 words and a brief biography including name, institutional affiliation, and email contact. Please note that only previously unpublished papers or those not already committed elsewhere can be accepted. By participating in the workshop you agree to participate in the future publication plans of the organizers. The organizers will provide hotel accommodation for three days and a contribution towards airfare for workshop participants.

Please submit your proposal, using the provided proposal template to Ms Valerie Yeo at by 30 January 2017. Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by late February.





Dr Tina Shrestha |

Dr Michiel Baas |

Dr Bernardo Brown |
Prof Brenda S.A. Yeoh |


More Posts

The Shifting Border: Dialogue with Ayelet Schacher – 3/24/2020

Ayelet Shacher is Professor of Law, Political Science, and Global Affairs at Toronto University. Tuesday, March 24, 2020, 6:00PM to 7:30PM (EDT)Starr Foundation Hall, U L102, University Center63 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10011 We tend to think of a border as a static line, but recent bordering techniques have broken away from the map, as governments have developed legal tools to

Read More »

Searching for Cosmopolis: Living Together, Apart – 2/11/2020

Professor Joseph Heathcott’s Laboratories of the Global City examines spaces of encounter and the people who inhabit and shape them.  Using six neighborhoods remade by immigration over the last century (Jackson Heights in New York; Peckham in London; St. Gilles in Brussels; Belleville in Paris; San Telmo in Buenos Aires; and Beyoglu in Istanbul), he

Read More »

‘The Arc of Protection: Reforming the International Refugee Regime’

T. Alexander Aleinikoff, Director of the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility, and Leah Zamore, director of NYU’s Center for International Cooperation’s Humanitarian Crises program, have co-authored a new book on reforming the international refugee regime.   The Arc of Protection: Reforming the International Refugee Regime, published by Stanford University Press, argues that the international refugee regime is

Read More »

(Im)migration and Urban Politics

How do migrants shape the cities we live in? How do migrants’ presence and agency relate to pressing urban challenges, such as gentrification and lack of affordable housing? In this event, Ayşe Çağlar and Sophie Gonick reflect on these and other questions that bring the migrant experience to the center of how we understand urban

Read More »

Book Discussion: Majority Minority

How do societies respond to great demographic change? This question lingers over the contemporary politics of the United States and other countries where persistent immigration has altered populations and may soon produce a majority minority milestone, where the original ethnic or religious majority loses its numerical advantage to one or more foreign-origin minority groups. Until

Read More »

Book Discussion: Reverse Subsidies in Global Monopsony Capitalism

This book provides a firm analytical base to discussions about injustice and the unequal distribution of gains from global production in the form of global monopsony capitalism. It utilizes the concept of reverse subsidies as the purchase of gendered labour and environmental services below their costs of production in garment value chains in India and

Read More »

Decolonizing Refugee Governance

As political instability around the world displaces larger and larger numbers of people, the international community struggles to institute an adequate and equitable arrangement to meet its obligations to protect refugees; repatriation is more often than not impossible, refugees face deplorable conditions in camps as well as inadequate paths to local integration and resettlement, and burden sharing

Read More »
Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: