Publication Details

Onuki, H. (2007). Migrant workers as political agents—analysis of migrant labourers’ ‘production of everyday spaces’ in Japan. Spring Convention, Peace Studies Association, 2007 Waseda University (pp. 1-4). Japan: PSA.

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Research paper


While specifically focusing on the context of Japan (one of the major destinations of Asian as well as other migrant workers), my research investigates the concrete, contingent and situated practices of global labour migration. the primary research question of my project is: how far and in what ways are global labour migrations implicated in as well as resisting the neoliberal restructing of global political economy? The central hypothesis is that migrant worders, as political subjects, and their everyday social practices not only participate in and depend on but also contest and negotiate the neo-liberal re-configurations of labour-capital relation in the (re)constitution of capitalist relations of production and social reproduction. One of the subsequent yet related hypotheses is: migrant workers' everyday struggles even at the most subaltern level generate the possiblities for emancipatory project and political resistance against the contradictory extension of capitalism into social spaces of human life.

This research project that aims to examine the multidimensional and multilayerd practices of global labour flows in their links with the historical transformations of capitalist relations of production and social production through the restructuring of the global political economy offers important and innovative contributions toward both the study of international labour migration and the field of International Relations (IR)/International Political Economy (IPE). My project endeavours not to simply depict international relations "from the bottom up" by advocating the ambigous notion of "global civil society," but rather unpack the linkages between global politics and individuals' everyday spaces, thereby explicating migrant workers as agential actors within the restructuring of the global political economy. In so doing it demonstrates how it is possible to advance a new-Gramscian approach in a more encompassing manner in order to thoroughly depict the dynamics of global labour migrations and within such social practices the implicaitons of multilayered intersectionality of class, "race," gender, ethnicity and nationality for the neoliberal reconfigurations of labour market on the global scale.