Talk at the Library: Following Domestic Workers from Indonesia to Malaysia
Listen to Dr. Olivia Killias in conversation with Anne Semadeni George about her book Follow the Maid: Domestic Worker Migration from Indonesia.
A quarter of a million women from Indonesia are employed by middle-class homes in Malaysia. Transnational domestic work has become a highly politicized issue. In Indonesia, a heated public debate has emerged about the legitimacy of the government's encouragement of overseas labor migration in the wake of cases of terrible abuse. In Malaysia, the presence of Indonesian migrant workers has been problematized for decades, leading, more recently, to the criminalization and deportation of illegalized workers on a massive scale, but also to moral panics about Indonesian 'maids' being employed in the most intimate spaces of middle-class homes.
Dr. Olivia Killias is a senior researcher and lecturer at the Department of Social Anthropology (ISEK) of the Unviversity of Zurich. She studied social sciences at the Universities of Lausanne and Amsterdam (UvA), and completed her PhD in social anthropology at the University of Bern. Olivia has carried out long-term ethnographic fieldwork in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Netherlands. Her recently published book Follow the Maid: Domestic Worker Migration from Indonesia (NIAS Press, 2018) explores domestic worker migration in and from Indonesia. Currently, Olivia is working on a new research project entitled ‘Caring not to Forget: Memory, Colonialism and Loss in Dutch Elderly Care’ for which she carried out twelve months of ethnographic fieldwork in the Netherlands.
Anne Semadeni George is a committed member of the Asia Society Switzerland. Malaysian by birth, she is of Indian origin and has spent the past 30 years in Switzerland. Anne has, despite being away from Malaysia, first hand experience with domestic workers in Malaysia, through her employing a Filipino "maid" who cared for her elderly parents for over 12 years. She was also informed of real life experiences of her network of Malaysian community with domestic workers from Sri Lanka and Indonesia, for instance. Anne's work interests cover intercultural communication and interfaith dialogue. She has been working as an English tutor for more than 15 years.