Accepted Paper:

Is it appropriation or exploitation of sameness? Victimization among migrants and immigrants in Asia and the Pacific  


Katie Shaw (University of California, Los Angeles)

Paper short abstract:

Migrants and immigrants look for migrants and immigrants in their search for guidance, support, opportunities, and new ways of life. This paper draws from extensive fieldwork to examine victimization among migrants and immigrants in Asia and the Pacific. The central question to be tackled is: is sameness in culture, race, and country of origin being appropriated among migrants and immigrants for attaining/owning general goals/identities or being exploited by one group of migrants and immigrants to take advantage of or even victimize another?

Paper long abstract:

Co-author: Victor Shaw

As elsewhere, applicable to migrants and immigrants is a general law that the more people are similar to one another, the more they interact with each other; and the more they interact, the more they experience conflict, including exploitation and criminal victimization.

On transportation lines, migrants may feel close to each other by just learning that they are the same group of people: being on the move for jobs and having no roots in the local community. Out of a spontaneous trust developed in the natural attempt to identify with others, some migrants may leave their belongings in the care of their newly made acquaintances. However, by the time they return from the toilet or a ticket office, they may find everything gone, as if with the wind. There are, of course, more sophisticatedly orchestrated schemes.

In a locale where they stay, migrants naturally turn to those who come from the same place, speak the same language, or belong to the same ethnic or racial group for service or assistance. As for exploitation and victimization, first-come migrants tend to prey on their newly arrived counterparts knowing that newcomers are inexperienced and dependent upon external assistance. Most commonly, the former misinforms the latter, overcharges the latter on goods, rental properties, and services, keeps the latter on lowpaying jobs or even in servitude, and prevents the latter from assimilating into the larger society.

Panel P49
Owning identities