Professor Rachel Silvey, of the Department of Geography of the University of Toronto, gave a talk on December 2 at CU Boulder. Her lecture and research, “Infrastructures of Eviction: Indonesian migrant labor in the Transnational City,” was set within the context of the recent boom in urbanism in Asia, the growing competition among cities to brand themselves as “world cities” and the resulting expropriation and dispossession of land. The key intervention she made in the talk was to link speculative urbanism in Indonesia to transnational labor export, particularly to Dubai and the UAE, seeing both as connected processes. Her talk also discussed NGO work around protecting transnational laborers and new discourses about Islamic morality around female laborers and their working conditions and abuses. Professor Silvey linked these different pieces through the case of the construction of a particular road to Sukabumi, Indonesia where residents are being displaced from their land and many go to labor export agencies. Once abroad many send remittances home for the construction of houses that are currently largely empty. Overall, it was a very well received and well-attended colloquium that generated a great deal of discussion and interest.
written by Emily Yeh, professor, geography