Embodied Migration I

To be determined
To be determined

Session Code: SOM6A
Session Format: Regular
Session Language: English
Research Cluster Affiliation: Sociology of Migration
Session Categories: Regular Session

Migration is fundamentally about the movement of physical bodies of people, yet most research on or about migration has largely overlooked the body and embodied experiences of moving across borders. The body as a site and medium through which of societal regulation as well as cultural ideas are embodied, is crucial to better understand migration patterns and processes. Studies of migration needs to consider how bodily experiences of move, mobility, and migration shape settlement, adaptation, integration, return, assimilation, pluralism, multiculturalism, transnationalism, cosmopolitanism, etc. This session addresses the question: How do the nation state, race and ethnicity, religion, and economy embody or disembody in the migration processes? Tags: Canadian Sociology, Migration / Immigration, Social Theory

Organizers: Jing Zhao, University of British Columbia, Cary Wu, York University


Natalie Delia Deckard, University of Windsor; Mita Williams, University of Windsor

Cosmopolitanism from Below: Analyzing the Community of Racialized Multi-Ethnics

Global cities represent the cosmopolitan metropolises of the future. They are jewels in the crowns of the nation-states to which they are only tenuously connected. These global cities are disproportionately home to racialized multi-ethnics, who are variously constructed as versatile, competent, exotic, and harbingers of a post-racial future. Canada’s rural working class has been pushed off land and out of work, rendered a social and economic problem requiring salvation. The native-born urban working class is descending into a criminalized sub-proletariat, with developing school-to-prison pipelines and growing regimes of surveillance. In contrast, the zeitgeist surrounding Canadian multi-culturalism demands a collective embrace of multi-culturalism’s embodiment: the racialized multi-ethnic Canadian. Implicit in the ethnically ambiguous visible minority is the embodiment of migration to the settler state. There is no clear home country, and no clear host country, not single ethnicity to put before the hyphen. Rather, for racialized multi-ethnics, the global city is the sole point of origin. Insofar as these global cities are the only thriving spaces in a nation entirely embedded in the global market, the imagined native of that imagined space becomes the only thriving identity in the working class. In this research, I theorize the racialized multi-ethnic as the literal embodiment of South-North migration, tied to the South as an idea, and hypervisible in the North as praxis. I question the ways in which “beige” people are constructed as conspicuously successful in comparison both to their ancestors’ co-ethnics in the Global South and to their working-class counterparts in the Global North. I build theory on the embodiment of the racialized multi-ethnic as a physical symbolic justification for the violence of globalized markets in late capitalism and the resultant widespread coerced migration of the working class.

Kristin Lozanski, King's University College at Western

(No)Bodies: Migrant agricultural workers and disembodiment in Canada

Each year, tens of thousands of migrant workers arrive in Canada via the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) from Mexico and the English-speaking Caribbean. These workers provide the embodied labour that is essential to agriculture. Although farms depend on their embodied labour, the material conditions of employment deny their embodied experience. On Canadian farms they endure material working conditions, exempted from many employment provisions, that are unacceptable to most Canadians. For instance, their hours are long; they work outdoors in the heat and the cold; they have limited access to basic requirements such as food and bathrooms. The living conditions for SAWP workers in employer-provided housing are explicitly articulated (albeit as guidelines), but even these guidelines are indifferent to the workers’ bodies, with, as examples, no limits on the maximum temperature in their housing and the use of well water for bathing that results in skin rashes. Through both their living and working conditions, SAWP workers – as precarious migrants – are denied embodiment.

Cary Wu, York University; Jagdeep Heir, York University

The consequences of childhood victimization: Will migrating away help?

Childhood victimization often results in higher fear of crime, lower sense of belonging, higher perception of being unsafe, and lower general well-being. In response, victims are more likely to move away from the place where they were victimized. Nonetheless, no research has considered whether moving away will help minimize the negative effects of childhood victimization. Drawing on data from the Canadian General Social Survey (2014), in this article we compare the differences in a list of widely-discussed consequences of childhood victimization between victims who moved away and those who stayed. We find that moving away does not seem to help victims recover from their childhood trauma. Findings of this research suggest that childhood victimization has long-term consequences in shaping people’s value orientations and social behaviors.

Ying Ma, University of British Columbia; Jing Zhao, University of British Columbia

How is migration lived and embodied by international students in Canada

International students in post-secondary educational institutions are making up a large proportion of the student population in Canada, especially in some cosmopolitan cities against the backdrop of neo-liberalist society. Based on my own experiences as a graduate student and then an instructor in Canadian colleges and universities, I observe international students might encounter significant difficulties in a foreign countries, like language barriers, emotional loneliness, lack of supports, financial burdens. I wonder what the geographic migration from other countries to Canada means for international students and how do they embody it in multiple layers, paying particular attention to educational dimension. The embodied migration is lived by students on daily basis, rather than regarding them as prosaic experiences, I hope to understand them better by searching for renewed meanings. By investigating their stories and testing their stories, I hope to return to the conception of embodied, what does embodied migration do or undo to the students as they navigate through different cultural and societal paradigms.