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ICCS WPS36 The Global Compact for Migration under Covid-19?: The Case of Thai Migrant Workers

Author/Speaker|Sudarat Musikawong

Publication Date|2020-12


The Covid-19 situation worsens the existing inequalities. Taiwan’s dependencies on noncitizen migrant workers who have no political voice, no economic bargaining power are even more apparent under Covid-19. While this essay compares Indonesian, Filipino, and Thai migrant workers in Taiwan, it focuses on Thailand’s current condition as both sending and receiving country. Most receiving countries are yet to grant Covid-19 moneary relief to foreign migrant workers, despite their legal working and residency status. Migrant workers returning home are often either illinformed or disqualified from seeking relief due to exclusive measures in their home countries. All the same, receiving countries continue to be dependent on foreign cheap labor, while sending countries benefit from remittances home, and migrant workers are those who are left behind. Under these desperate times, it is yet to see how any any Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration might be pursued.

Author's Bio:
Sudarat Musikawong is Associate Professor of Sociology and Deputy Director of International Relations and Networking at the Institute of Population and Social Research at Mahidol University in Thailand.


Research: Critical Cultural Sociology & Ethnography Research

Dr. Musikawong's research examines two forms of justice: historical justice in the public sphere in Thailand (regarding past state violence) and Thai migrant worker justice. She positions her investigations within cultural-political sociology and ethnographic research.

Dr. Musikawong's work connects macro-socio-economic historical conditions, social political national circumstances, migration, and cultural production. Her long-term research goals are to develop methodologies and theoretical frameworks that provide connections between these often-divergent research agendas between the social sciences and humanities.


Her work has been presented at policy-oriented conferences and published in English language journals. Most recently, she has two practitioner publications, one with an Asian American Policy-oriented journal (AAPI-Nexus) and the other forthcoming with Panida Rzonca in the Journal of Archives of Criminology. The second article focused on codification of the levels of labor trafficking for policy makers, advocates, and government officials. These practitioner publications are part of her next long-term project, titled Invisible Citizenship: Trafficking in Thai Migrant Workers Lives. It is a five-year project based on fieldwork comparing Thai migrant workers strategies toward "justice" ---labor, residency, and human rights in the United States, South Korea, and Taiwan. Her goals are focused on building theoretical depth utilizing ethnography and extended case method as a way of constructing theories about migrant justice, invisible labor, citizenship, and visible national belonging through various worker education and media production practices.

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