Read all confirmed presentation abstracts for the conference.
Please note that all abstracts are printed as submitted. Any errors, typographical or otherwise, are the authors’.
Sino-Japanese Infrastructure Rivalry in ASEAN: Dynamics and ImpactBarbora Valockova, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Sino-Japanese competition is a crucial structural force for the stability of Southeast Asia and East Asia in general and infrastructure development in ASEAN is emerging as a new source of intensified rivalry between China and Japan. This paper aims to assess the ASEAN countries’ capacity to benefit from the Chinese and Japanese infrastructure investment initiatives, without having to sacrifice other strategic interests or cede too much influence to either benefactor. Based on Indonesia’s and Myanmar’s case studies, it argues that ASEAN countries are becoming proficient at playing China and Japan against each other to secure the best investment terms.
However, this state of balancing and hedging dynamics increases both opportunities and risks. On the one hand, it prevents China and Japan from establishing a dominant position in the region and makes them continuously engaged in regional governance. For ASEAN countries, it offers a great opportunity to enhance their infrastructure and boost economic development. On the other hand, it could have a negative impact on ASEAN indebtedness, connectivity, and integration, due to an eventual race to the bottom and irrational or technically incompatible projects being pushed forward.
In view of this, this paper proposes a conceptual framework for evaluating major factors contributing to positive and negative effects of this infrastructure competition and explores how China, Japan, and ASEAN countries can contain it to avoid a zero-sum rivalry and instead promote a cooperative competition for the overall benefit of all stakeholders.
Mental Health Needs of Depressed New Filipino FathersJay Errol Baral, University of Santo Tomas, Philippines
Rosalito de Guzman, University of Santo Tomas, Philippines
Emerging studies about paternal mental health among new fathers have been seen as a wide interest in terms of experienced post-natal depression. This is because when an unprepared new father feels the need and pressure to adapt with changes in lifestyle and in his new role as the father in the family, he starts to experience depression equally with the mother but the difference is that new father is less vocal and by not showing it receives less social support. This study made use of administering Becks Depression Inventory among 50 new fathers one week prior to the childbirth of their partner to rule out existing depression not caused by childbirth. Qualified participants who did not have depression prior to childbirth were included in the study. The researcher followed up with them 48-72 hours after the childbirth to measure their depression level by administering Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) and the Gotland Male Depression Scale (GMDS) because some fathers with Postnatal Depression remain undetected by only using one scale. Qualified participants were invited to participate in an in-depth interview so that findings from their interviews were integrated together with the results of EPDS and GMDS. As a result of conducting this study, it was revealed that other than depression, sleep problems and anxiety, they also turn to maladaptive coping.
The Transformation of Indonesia’s Defence Diplomacy: Examination of the Post New Order DynamicsFrega Wenas Inkiriwang, The London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom
In the Post New Order period, there was a significant development in Indonesia. The military, which was used as a political tool by the authoritarian regime, underwent a fundamental reform. The process was supported by the military leaders, which resulted in the issuance of the new Law on the Indonesian National Defence Forces in 2004. This legal basis has since guided how the Indonesian military operates in dealing with external and internal security threats and curbs the socio-political role of the Indonesian military, which is associated with the New Order period. However, it has not explicitly touched upon the implementation of defence diplomacy, which has significantly increased within the last decade. Hence, this paper aims to analyse the transformation of Indonesia’s Defence Diplomacy in the Post New Order period. The paper attempts to answer two key questions: “Why has Indonesia increasingly relied on defence diplomacy as part of its overall diplomacy?” and “What factors account for different practices undertaken in Indonesia’s defence diplomacy?” The paper qualitatively scrutinises the transformation of Indonesia’s defence diplomacy by comparing three case studies of defence diplomacy activities, namely strategic consultations, joint exercises, and inter-military assignments, under different administrations in the Post New Order era. In supporting the analysis, the paper relies on the combination of interviews and observations performed during fieldwork from July 2018 to July 2019. The paper is critical since it offers an alternative approach to studying Indonesia’s defence diplomacy under democratic control.
Confucian Values and Public Service Motivation: The Mediating Role of Paradoxical LeadershipTam Nguyen, Monash University, Australia
Herman Tse, Monash University, Australia
Ly Fie Sugianto, Monash University, Australia
Sen Sendjaya, Swinburne University, Australia
Although research of leadership and public service motivation (PSM) has been conducted in diverse cultural contexts, it remains understudied in Confucian Asia. The current study aims to examine how Confucian values influence PSM in Vietnam and also attempts to investigate the mediating role of paradoxical leadership in this relationship. Drawing mainly on the institutional theory of PSM (Perry, 2000; Vandenabeele 2007), this study proposes to examine whether Confucian values are positively related to paradoxical leadership and such leadership is also positively related to PSM. This prediction was tested using a sample of 206 public managers-civil servant dyads drawn from different government departments in Vietnam. Public managers were asked to provide their responses to the established scales of Confucian values and paradoxical leadership. Civil servants were asked to respond to the scales of paradoxical leadership and PSM for data analysis. The analytical data procedures were outlined by PROCESS Macro of SPSS developed by Hayes (2013). Results provide support for the mediation model that Confucian values were found to be positively related to paradoxical leadership, which in turn also exerted a positive impact on PSM. The findings of this study contribute to the understanding of the relationships between Confucian values, paradoxical leadership, and PSM in the public sector of Vietnam. The findings also extend to the public management systems in other countries that share some similar Confucian values like Vietnamese do in Asia. In terms of the practical implications, the public managers should communicate the positive characteristics of Confucian values and practice the use of paradoxical leadership behaviors to increase PSM among civil servants.
The Structure Underlying Japan’s Soft Power Tangles in Thailand: Influences and Foreign Policy DirectionsPreechaya Kittipaisalsilpa, International University of Japan, Japan
The pursuit of Japan's cultural diplomacy in Thailand holds unique changes after the end of World War II. Amid the shifting politics in the region, the term ‘soft power’ has started to become a crucial component of Japanese foreign policy towards Thailand. Looking at the issue comparatively provides the current limitation of the existing scholarship concerns in Japan soft power as instrument policy in Thailand. The research argues that Japan’s soft power elements in its foreign policy direction towards Thailand has been characterized by a different level of relationship and by a different degree of importance underlying significance changes in the international structure. The research reveals the complexities of interaction between Japan and Thailand beyond the usual historical-level analysis while also offers a valuable resource for the study of Japan’s soft power receptions in Thailand. The research examines by showing how principles of soft power have been refined because of its geopolitical given, international structure, and Japanese foreign policy direction. The research concludes that Thailand serves as a useful barometer of evolving Japanese soft power and influence in Southeast Asia. The result is a comprehensive discussion of the growing presence of Japan skillfully crafted foreign policy in Thailand as much as contributing to the current on Japan’s soft power dynamics and the future challenges ahead in the international structure.
Being at Home in Transnational Spaces: Conceptualizing the Lifeworld of Chinese Migrants AbroadCarsten Schäfer, University of Cologne, Germany
In the scientific discourse in China, overseas Chinese are usually represented as constitutive elements of the Chinese nation-state. In contrast, Western migration studies tend to analyze Chinese migrant’s identities only in the context of their relation to the host country. In a way, both approaches fall into the trap of methodological nationalism and thus fail to account for the complex environment in which Chinese migrant’s lifeworlds are shaped. Against this backdrop, this paper aims at capturing the multiple actors, and their inter-relational power dynamics and contestations that are critical in defining Chinese diaspora identities. Based on a content analysis of Chinese language print and online media in Austria, as well as on an online survey, the paper argues that Chinese migrants’ identities (in contrast to the above-mentioned state-centered approaches) are exposed to influential factors that emanate from four different social spaces, namely the host country, China, immigrant communities within the country of residence („ethnic-enclaves“) and transnational social spaces. It is the constant interplay between actors in those different spaces that coin overseas Chinese identities. By presenting this analytical framework in which a single nation-state is no longer treated as the sole unit of analysis, the paper will hopefully contribute to the development of a more comprehensive theory on diaspora lifeworld’s that is able to recognize its internal diversities and differences shaped by multiple actors embedded in transnational arenas. Consequently, the model will help us to grasp the multiple and hybrid manifestations of “Chineseness” (and migration) in the globalized world.
Mapping Circumstance: Human Security, Marginality and Precariousness in Southeast AsiaPaul Carnegie, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Brunei
A central problem in examining multiple insecurities in Southeast Asia is that each country confronts a different context of human security and faces a set of specific challenges embedded in people’s daily-lived experience. The ambiguous ways in which the ‘invisibility’ of their situations are conditioned and configured are neither readily recognized nor understood. State-led action tends to be generic and imitative rather than addressing effectively the conditioning factors and social imaginary that render individuals and communities insecure. How then are we to proceed? The following paper considers this question by examining the complex relationships between ‘safety’ and ‘risk’ and that of ‘trust’ and ‘uncertainty’. It argues that the field of human security needs to engage more fully with a range of sociological and anthropological concepts and approaches if it is to gain greater analytical purchase on Southeast Asia’s precarious lives in the 21st Century. In particular, the paper focuses on the utility of important theoretical and empirical developments on marginality and their relevance for the Southeast Asian context.
Chinese Music, Difference and Inter-community Relations in a 19th-century New Zealand Gold-mining SettingHenry Johnson, University of Otago, New Zealand
The socio-cultural milieu of colonial New Zealand changed significantly in the 1860s as a result of the discovery of gold and the subsequent immigration of Chinese miners at the invitation of the Dunedin Chamber of Commerce. At first, Chinese miners arrived from the Australian goldfields, where they had earlier migrated, and later from southern China and especially from Guangdong. The impact of this inward migration was immense and contributed much to New Zealand’s cultural diversity at the time, which comprised primarily settler British, who came from various parts of the British Isles, and indigenous Māori. Consequently, a particularly negative outcome of Chinese migration was the introduction of a discriminatory poll tax and immigration policy in 1881, with media reports often including discourse prejudiced against New Zealand’s Chinese population. However, in this setting of cultural difference, Chinese music performance was a distinct part of the sonic environment and was acknowledged in a number of newspaper articles, particularly in connection with inter-community relations for celebratory occasions or educational events. This paper offers a history of New Zealand’s Chinese past with a focus on Chinese music performance in the nineteenth century as a distinct point of difference that helped bring disparate cultures together. The methodological orientation of the paper is historical in approach, and it assembles a number of primary sources comprising English-language newspapers articles written by non-Chinese as a way of critically interpreting how and why Chinese and European communities interacted in a musical environment of difference.
From Policy Change to Livelihoods Strategies: Implications of the New Rural Development Model in VietnamYin Li, University of Sydney, Australia
Since the Doi Moi (Reform) era in 1986, rural development policies in Vietnam have followed a market-based development approach that only focused on the improving cumulative growth. The top-down bureaucratic structure in policy planning and implementation failed to engage the community and understand the realities of local contexts. As a result, farmers often find it more difficult to support their livelihoods on agriculture. Many rural areas continue to experience rising socio-economic inequalities, low human capital development, and lack of social infrastructures. At the same time, studies have shown that rural people also have different response strategies to protect and maintain their livelihoods. Combining field work and a wide range of primary and secondary sources, I contend that while rural development policies are implemented in a top-down process, they could also be influenced by livelihood strategies from the bottom up. I illustrate this through the implementation of the new National Target Program on New Rural Development (NTP-NRD) in a rural commune located in southeastern Vietnam. Although rural development policies fail to deliver thei promises, people in the commune manage to maintain their agricultural-based livelihoods by specialising in crops that are land and labour efficient. Their initiatives are then picked up by the local government as a pillar of success for the NTP-NRD, which paved the way for new development outcomes such as technology transfer and infrastructure improvement.
The Life Support Activities for Chinese New Immigrants in SingaporeYuki Yokohama, Kanto Gakuin University, Japan
In this study, the circumstances of new Chinese settlers in Singapore and support activity for them are clarified with various articles. As a result, it became clear that new immigrants increased rapidly from the 1990s by promotion of the immigration acceptance policy of the Singapore government. The new settlers are from various areas, such as the northeast part of China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the coastal southern part of China, such as Fujian and Guangdong, which were the hometowns of many settlers in Singapore in the past. Many of new settlers have a high education and high expertise, and are granted permanent residency status in Singapore, and few of them are destitute. Moreover, new settlers, mainly people from the same town and the Chinese collegial schoolmates, organize mutual aid societies newly, and are doing their work for support and improvement of new settlers' life. With the increase in new settlers, friction develops between new settlers and Singapore residents because of the difference in culture, custom, religion, and living habit, Aiming at reconciliation of both sides, Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations plays a central role in doing the work for development of the Singapore society with ethnic collaboration, such as holding Chinese culture events and livelihood support seminars for new settlers. Hereafter, it is necessary to investigate how new settlers' identity will change through lives at actual places, relations with mutual aid organizations and how the network of mutual aid organizations of people of the Chinese sphere will be built.
Rare Encounters: Polish and Indian Soldiers During World War II in Documentary AccountsPaulina Stanik, University of Warsaw, Poland
The growing number of Indians in Poland, which almost doubled in 2017-2020 did not go unnoticed by the broader society, but the relationship between individuals is not free from tension often fuelled by stereotypes and prejudices. The inability of communities to deal with the influx of migrants becomes a subject of media attention and heated discussions. Although, at first glance, Poland and India do not have much in common the two nations were bound together during the Second World War in an unlikely way. Soldiers’ encounters, which took place mostly while preparing for the Italian Campaign (1943-1945), undergoing training in the Middle Eastern/North African deserts or playing a friendly soccer match, constitute a valuable insight into the cross-cultural relations in the intercultural British army and the Poles’ perception of the ‘exotic Other’. This paper aims to contribute to the field of cultural and literary studies by adding the Polish perspective to the existing postcolonial research on the war experience of colonial troops. By analyzing Polish documentary World War II narratives, the study has a potential to add a new value to the existing Polish-Indian relations by shedding light on a period of unprecedented cooperation that has never been studied before. The largely positive representation of the Indians in the war accounts could become a point of reference in the shaping of cross-cultural relations in the 2020s.
Constructing and Performing Narrative: How the Thai Military Justified the 2006 and 2014 Coup D’étatsBavo Stevens, Ubon Ratchathani University, Thailand
In recent years there has been renewed interest in the civil-military relations of Thailand, arguably the most coup-prone country in the world. But while there has been considerable interest in exploring the political power and political economy of the country’s military, relatively less attention has been dedicated to understanding its legitimization strategies. This paper argues that the Thai military has made extensive use of narratives that cast it as a central protagonist in existential struggles for the state in order to legitimise it intervention into politics. After close to ten years of democracy, coup leaders in 2006 pushed a narrative that framed it as a guardian of democracy, while the leaders of the 2014 coup, emphasized a return to "order" after nearly a decade of on-and-off street protests. Though the 2006 and 2014 narratives remain distinct, they draw from the same set of nationalistic and moralistic tropes. In both narratives, the military emphasized its duty as the protector of the country’s three core pillars – nation, religion, and monarchy – as well as its duty as the primary defender of national unity in the form of kwampenthai, or Thainess. In doing so, it cast junta leaders as khon di, good and virtuous persons, and the deposed as corrupt, immoral, and often un-Thai. Through these narratives, the military framed its interventions as necessary evils for protecting and preserving the state, and as a consequence, as legitimate.
Resilience in Dynastic Transition: Writing on Contemporary Events in Seventeenth-century ChinaChui-Joe Tham, University of Oxford, United Kingdom
With the exception of letters and word-of-mouth transmission, news-reporting mechanisms and historical writing usually operated under government auspices before the seventeenth century in China. The proposed paper will argue that the decades of the Ming-Qing transition (1644-1672) saw a crucial shift toward private, unofficial accounts of contemporary events, produced and disseminated for reasons unrelated to government aims. With the intention of exploring what ‘news’ and ‘history’ meant in China before the seventeenth century, the first section of the paper will briefly examine earlier forms of news and historical writing. The second section will investigate the dramatic increase in unofficial current-events-writing in the seventeenth century. With reference to four texts, two of them produced rapidly after the fall of Beijing in 1644, and two several years later, the paper will attempt to answer two questions. What did the people writing these texts want their readers to know? More importantly, what can their narratives tell us about the relationship between writing and resilience during times of socio-political upheaval? In the absence of official, reliable sources of news and information, and in circumstances resulting from the mid-Ming developments in commercial printing, seventeenth-century literati in China wrote accounts of the Ming-Qing transition as a means of ordering a disordered world. Their work represents a valuable opportunity for scholars to gain insight into the act of writing as an expression of human resilience, in the attempt to re-imagine and re-legitimise a world after the Ming.
Influence of Jingxing Ancient Route to the Changes of Villages Along It in ChinaLinan Ding, Tsinghua University, China
The Jingxing Ancient Route has been a natural passage linking Hebei and Shanxi Province for over 2000 years in China, and was also the most important route for the contact of Zhao and Qin state in history. In 2006, it was listed in the important heritage sites under state protection of China. The route stretches from Tumen Pass to the Guguan Great Wall, and now most of the main part is in the central section of Jingxing County, Heibei Province, which has been a multicultural place for over 2000 years. Apart from being a traffic trunk, this road has three main functions in history. It was mainly used as an important military road before Tang Dynasty. Then it was a policy immigration route for people leaving from Shanxi to Hebei in the early Ming Dynasty. With the rising of Shanxi merchants it became a commercial road in Ming and Qing Dynasties. Along this ancient route, there are a lot of historical villages remained, whose changes were deeply affected by it. Through historical research, field research and interviews, this paper will comb the history of Jingxing Ancient Road, analyses the settlement generations and spatial changes of the villages along this road, and then try to find how a post route with multiple functions can influence the evolution of villages under dual cultures.
Invention of “Self-Mummified Buddhas” in Japan and Its Historical SignificanceManabu Yamasawa, University of Tsukuba, Japan
Self-mummification is an aesthetic practice in which a monk goes into a hole underground and remains there without food, a fast designed to end in death and allow the monk to become a Buddha. As of today, six self-mummified monks are known to exist in Dewa Sanzan or The Three Mountains of Dewa in northern Japan, an area often associated with the Shingon sect of Buddhism. However, while many historians have studied the Egyptian funerary practices of mummification, few researchers have studied self-mummification in Japan. This paper focuses on a monk named Tetsumonkai. Tetsumonkai died in 1829, and his mummified body was dug out and declared a Buddha in the flesh.
In discussing Tetsumonkai, I am not so much interested in the actual practice of self-mummification as in the invention of the process. Though virtually unknown today, Tetsumonkai in fact never went into a hole in the ground. He died in his sleep in the temple, and subsequently his body was buried. In one account, his body was hung from the ceiling of the temple and dehydrated by the use of a charcoal fire and candles. In another account, salt water was poured into his body to prevent it from rotting. In no way am I suggesting that the practice of self-mummification is a fiction or hoax; rather, this paper argues that even this artificial (inauthentic) processing of the body is significantly informed by a cultural ideology or philosophy, which I would like to discuss through archival work.
Japan and Ukraine: Strengthening Friendship and Partnership Ties in the Era of ReiwaVioletta Udovik, Institute for Languages and Cultures of Europe and Asia, Japan
Notwithstanding the fact that Japan and Ukraine are separated by a great geographic distance, the two countries have many things in common. First of all, they experienced accidents at nuclear power plants. Secondly, Japan and Ukraine are united by the issue of occupation of their territories by Russia. Thirdly, both countries share universal values such as democracy, rule of law and market economy. The year 2019 saw important developments on both sides. In Japan a new era commenced with the enthronement of Emperor Naruhito, and in Ukraine a new president was elected. The first high level meeting of Reiwa was held in October 2019 between President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Prime Minister Abe Shinzo during Zelenskyy's visit to Japan in order to attend the Enthronement Ceremony. Such areas for bilateral collaboration as investment cooperation, dealing with the aftermath of nuclear accidents, further liberalization of visa regime for Ukrainian citizens, cooperation in the IT and security areas were mapped out as priorities. The friendship and partnership ties between Japan and Ukraine which are based on the deep trust and mutual respect are expected to see further development. First ever participation of Japan's Self-Defense Forces in Ukrainian-US co-hosted exercise "Sea Breeze" in the Black Sea planned in 2020 as well as intercultural cooperation in the framework of the Tokyo Olympics provide a good opportunity for further broadening of horizon of bilateral ties between Japan and Ukraine.
‘Judith Butler is Not Suitable for Us’: Queer Capital in China’s Transgender Activist CircleYuanzhi Wang, Zhejiang University, China
This paper looks at the transgender activism in China during the last decade, and attempts to elucidate its ambivalent relationships with the transnational flow of a particular kind of knowledge, known as "queer theory". During interactions between activism and knowledge taking place in a non-west yet globally-webbed context, a new generation of trans-queer activists has emerged in the activist circle, as opposed to the older generation of transsexual activists. This study aims to make sense of the embodied cultural capital that enables the production and expression of the trans-queer activist identities in China. By sketching the interactions and boundaries between the two generations of activists, this research argues that trans-queer activists have formed a bounded, normative imagination of what a queer activist should be like based on their understanding of queer theory, including aspects of linguistic capital, aesthetic capital, and political capital. This sanctioned repertoire of queerness thus performs as a mechanism of exclusion that marginalizes the transsexual bodies and renders transsexual’s claims illegitimate since they are "not queer enough". In response, transsexual activists have been invoking a post-colonial, nationalist logic to discredit the queer theory, chanting "Judith Butler is not suitable for us". This study speaks to the basic concern of the relationship between knowledge and activism in queer cultural studies. By discussing how the use of “queer”, a subversive signifier, can have potential backfires on queer activism when reified into an essentialized and class-based identity, we can resist the cooptation of queerness and regain its critical edge.
A Research on the Evolution Mechanism of Chinese Rural Traditional Buildings Under the Background of Modern UrbanizationLei Tie, Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture, China
Chinese traditional villages belong to a typical "rural society"，However, with the rapid urbanization of China, modern transportation has rapidly extended from the modern metropolis to the countryside. Meanwhile, not only modern building materials, but also urban building types, lifestyles and aesthetics have quickly flowed into the countryside, which have a great impact on traditional buildings of Chinese villages. Against this background, contemporary rural buildings have begun to evolve, and undergo complex and interesting changes. So, what are the types and development rules of this seemingly complicated evolution? And what are the underlying mechanisms such as the value system and thinking mode behind these laws? These are the questions to be explored from the professional perspective of architecture. This article argues that under the impact of urbanization and modern technology, Chinese rural buildings have not completely abandoned its tradition or fully accepted urban architecture types, but a hybrid of the two. Based on the traditional building type, and through introducing modern materials and structures in part, the hybrid performs and shows a gradual change. The evolution of contemporary Chinese rural buildings generally shows a process of continuous trial and error. These rural buildings，which always are built by villagers themselves, are gradually perfected through the mutual learning and imitation of villagers and incessant improvement by them, and finally, a balance between tradition and modernity will arrive, when and where the building having undergone many changes would begin to solidify into a new building type.
An Analysis of Filipino Seafarers’ Return Preparedness and Perception of Successful ReturnFe Elisha Isidro-Banez, De La Salle College of Saint Benilde, Philippines
A Filipino seafarer’s return home is recognized by his family and society, as a culmination of a financially lucrative career and the achievement of lifelong objectives, a model of “calculated strategy.” The study 1) identifies the factors that seafarers consider when preparing for their retirement; 2) determines their level of preparedness for return to the Philippines; and 3) assesses their individual perception of successful return and reintegration. Factors reflective of their Return Preparedness, through their successful resource mobilization of tangible, intangible and social capital, are operationalized.
Quantitatively, a pilot study and survey provide a demographic profile. Cramer Coefficient V was used to establish the association between Return Preparedness and Perception of Successful Return. Qualitatively, in-depth interviews of retired seafarers constitute the case studies corresponding to the different Levels of Preparedness and Perception of Successful Return.
Research shows that: 1) Seafarers accumulate tangible resources in the form of savings, ownership of home, car and a small business. Education of both children and the seafarer himself are necessary Intangible Resources. Social Capital Resource includes family relations with wife and children and their commitment to maintaining a simple life while the father is on board the ship. 2) Employing Cassarino’s Theory on Return Preparedness, the study identified a Medium Level of Preparedness, wherein the value of family relations and support has altered the dynamics of perception of successful return. 3) The presence or lack of family support facilitates or hinders the seafarer’s resource mobilization, influencing his perception of successful or unsuccessful return.
Constructing and Practicing Rights: A Perspective of Female Factory Workers in BangladeshJui Han Kan, National Taiwan University, Taiwan
Mei Hsia Wang, National Taiwan University, Taiwan
In this paper, I analyze the citizenship of female workers in Dhaka, Bangladesh. I discuss how rights are built in response to dynamic powers and authorities in the context of local governance. For female workers, claiming rights often imply stepping out of a familiar social-cultural framework with the goal of pursuing the attention of state. However, in the uneven process of rights obtainment, those involved could not dispense with obvious traces of clientelism; besides, dwelling in city and participating in urban geopolitics, female workers in particular experience constant confrontations related to gender order and state policies.
Taking the export processing zones as example, I described how state policies and the influence of transnational capitalism have reshaped gender order. In addition, various worker organizations, including both local and transnational NGOs and trade unions expanding with the garment industry, have deeply involved when workers claiming over rights. They provide assistance to worker’s specific needs, such as mental and physical cares and motherhood responsibilities; these, in turn, consolidate connections between female workers and increase their willingness to participate in labor negotiations. In this process, various labor-related experiences and the workers’ daily lives are mediated by the organizations.
By examining how dominant forces interplay and destabilize the citizenship of female workers, I point out that female workers in Bangladesh exercise their rights through various approaches and develop more empirical and relational concepts of rights. The ways female workers organize and claim their rights reflect the transformation of social-cultural context and nation-building of Bangladesh.