Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Faculty of Arts


Globalisation, and associated population movements, blurs the boundaries drawn by nation-states (Castles, 2004), but the era of globalisation is a “time of continuing and even heightening nation-state building processes” (Glick-Schiller et al., 1995, 59). This thesis explores the ways in which nationality/citizenship shapes the subjectivities of ‘skilled’ people born as Filipino citizens currently living and working in Singapore. It is based on empirical investigation amongst Information Technology (IT) workers and nurses. In doing so, this thesis revisits the migration-development nexus as a site to reproduce the institutional and ideological/moral salience of the nation-state. Its salience is maintained through its capacity of ‘(re)defining’ the population moving across state borders. People crossing state borders come to embody particular national meanings, while discourses around cross-border population movement are constructed by political leaders and intellectuals as being associated with development. The employment of ‘skilled’ Filipinos in Singapore is a site where competing discourses produced in ‘development’ processes in the Philippines and Singapore intersect. ‘Skilled’ Filipino origin workers in Singapore represent ‘lost brains’ contributing to poor development outcomes in the Philippines. They are simultaneously hailed as national ‘heroes’ for their earnings shared with their family members remaining in the Philippines. Filipino citizens’ labour is re-evaluated as they are deployed to the Singapore labour market through Singapore’s immigration (citizenship) regime that determines under what conditions non-citizens can live within its jurisdiction. This regime reflects the Singapore state’s vision of nation (or what ‘development’ should look like) and symbolises the lines of inclusion/exclusion drawn in the nation-building process in Singapore. This thesis makes a comparative analysis of the viewpoints and experiences of ‘skilled’ workers in IT and nursing fields in order to explore the intersections between labour and citizenship. Using the data largely drawn from interviews, carried out between April and October 2009, in the Philippines and Singapore; this thesis explores the ways in which ‘skilled’ Filipino origin workers in Singapore negotiate the different national meanings they embody and contribute to the nation-building processes in both countries.