Title: 'Rubbery' ASEAN: mediating people-movement in Southeast Asia

Authors: Linda Quayle

Addresses: School of Politics, History, and International Relations, The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus, Jalan Broga, 43500 Semenyih, Selangor, Malaysia

Abstract: Southeast Asians on the move are caught 'between a fluid region and a hard state', as Malaysian historian Farish Noor puts it. Drawing on mobilities theory, this article seeks to locate the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) within this ideational map of flows and gates, arguing that it can best be characterised as a 'semi-soft' entity, mediating between the need for mobility and the fear of mobility. ASEAN intersects with people-movement in the areas of skilled and unskilled labour; connectivity and development; and security and protection. On aggregate, its goals reflect an ambivalence that leaves it open to charges of ineffectiveness, even duplicity. Yet this incoherence might be both an inevitable and also sometimes positive element of ASEAN's shock-absorber role, as it both buffers and is imprinted by the dual pressures of fluidity and fixity.

Keywords: ASEAN; people-movement; Southeast Asia; migration; skilled labour migration; unskilled labour migration; irregular migration; forced migration; internal migration; migrant protection; connectivity; development gap; human trafficking; people smuggling; mobilities theory.

DOI: 10.1504/IJMBS.2019.102417

International Journal of Migration and Border Studies, 2019 Vol.5 No.3, pp.172 - 187

Received: 20 Jan 2017
Accepted: 05 Dec 2017

Published online: 24 Sep 2019 *

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