Foreign Policy and the Domestic Worker: The Malaysia-Indonesia domestic worker dispute
In 2009, following numerous high profile abuse cases, the Indonesian government placed a moratorium on its citizens taking up employment in Malaysia as domestic workers. From the perspective of feminist International Relations, the emergence of migrant domestic work as a foreign policy concern between these two states is significant - exposing a relationship between foreign policy and the webs of transnationalized social relations of reproduction that underpin the development prospects of middle to low income states. In this article I utilize the example of the Malaysia-Indonesia dispute in order to develop some tentative suggestions concerning the possibility of integrating an analysis of transnational social relations of reproduction into foreign policy analyses. The article initially overviews how the dispute is widely understood in relation to Indonesia's turn to a more democratic foreign policy. The inadequacy of such a reading is explored further. The article suggests that the above-mentioned dispute should rather be understood in relation to the specific configurations of productive-reproductive relations that underpin migratory flows and the role of Indonesia and Malaysia as 'regulatory' states involved in the establishment of return-migration systems in which women migrants are viewed as economic commodities and policed via a range of state-sanctioned practices (including commitments to anti-trafficking).
International Feminist Journal of Politics
Political Science not elsewhere classified