Feelings of home amongst Tamil migrant workers in Singapore’s Little India by Wajihah Hamid
Low-wage Tamil migrant workers have long been contributing to Singapore’s economy. Despite labouring there for three decades and being connected to the existing Tamil diasporic community in Singapore, they have been left out of both state rhetoric and society, often due to claims of transience. However, a fatal traffic accident in the locality of Singapore’s Little India in December 2013 involving a Tamil migrant worker that morphed into a riot has again brought the problems of these men and their presence within the vicinity of Little India to the fore. This paper is based on a wider ethnographic study of a group of Tamil migrant workers from the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu who were working in Singapore in 2012. The homely feelings experienced by the migrant workers highlight their feelings of homesickness vis-à-vis the need for a sense of belonging felt amongst transnational male migrant workers. On the other hand, practices that make the space unhomely for them not only illustrate their social position but will also lead to to the study of the governmentality of migration and control of migrant bodies.
Keywords: Tamil migrant workers, Singapore, Little India, transnational home, policing, governmentality
I met Tong Yee, who is the director of The Thought Collective in The Social Wave – Flagship Panel Series Discussion by NTC and NTUES. I told him about my FYP project about kindness, and he connected me to Khoon, who oversees Little India trails.
What is interesting about Little India is, it contains people from different nationalities as well as locals. From our discussion, I learned that as the space is quite small, suspicion is increasing among strangers living there.
What I could potentially be the directions for my FYP are:
- How to connect people from different cultures? What kind of universal kindness language that could help dissolve suspicion among people?
- What is stopping someone from trying to have conversation with strangers, and how could we solve the problem?
There has been an initiative happened as a response to this issue, called Kapor Chatparty by Octopus Residency. I will contact the person involved soon to know about Little India community better, and see how I can contribute to the society using my FYP.
Using logistic regression techniques with the Canadian Violence Against Women Survey, this paper examines the effects of demographic characteristics, previous experience with victimization, and risk management and avoidance behaviors on fear of crime. Results indicate higher explanations of variance are largely attributed to women having had negative experiences with strangers. Negative experiences include being followed, receiving unwanted attention, and having received obscene phone calls. One implication of this study is that women fear “stranger danger” most, and they are more likely to be acutely aware of danger when there are unknown men nearby. Further implications of the supposed paradoxical relationship between stranger danger and actual victimization risk are discussed.
After our first FYP Meeting on 12 August 2016, I had a lot of input to improve my FYP topic from Angeline and my friends. Previously, I thought of encouraging university students to be kind to others. However, the urge does not feel too urgent to be implemented on university setting. There is no real problem there. Moreover, the idea of making an app for people to indicate that they need help, could be misused easily by robbers, for example.
Hence, I needed to look at kindness from another angle. During the discussion, we felt that sometimes it is hard to help strangers. There are suspicion that this stranger might not have a good intention. We might be used, etc. On a larger context, this bad assumption also happen worldwide, especially in Europe where a lot of migrants, unknown people, come to the countries.
Therefore, I will look closer on this issue this week and come up with refined keywords for my further research.