Monash University

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Life in between The post-migration narratives of Indonesian returning domestic workers

Version 2 2017-05-17, 02:01
Version 1 2017-02-08, 04:54
posted on 2017-05-17, 02:01 authored by Hasan Gaffar, Zakiah
This study examines the experiences of Indonesian returning domestic workers post-migration. It offers an analysis of in-depth interviews with twenty returned migrant women gathered during nine months of fieldwork in Pontianak and Pemangkat, West Kalimantan, Indonesia. It considers the links between migration, the changes in women’s perspectives regarding family, gender roles and their understanding of themselves, and their surroundings. In the thesis study, I found migration experiences significantly changed how women negotiated their gender roles in connection with their families and communities. While economic drivers were significant in migration, women often indicated that a desire to alter or reshape their social situation was an important aspect of their decision-making. While migration experiences were often empowering, women also considered that they felt caught between two worlds on return; between Malaysia and Indonesia; between life prior to migration and post-migration; between existing social expectations and their own aspirations. They experienced challenges negotiating what their parents or their partners expect of them. The case of these women is explicated to show that gendered labour migration leads to changes in women’s socio-economic and socio-cultural environment of personal and family life. This thesis contributes to existing work on gendered migration by close attention to the complex factors that shape women’s decisions to migrate for employment; their experiences during the migration process; and the social and cultural challenges and changes that they experience on return.


Principal supervisor

Brett Hough

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Political and Social Inquiry. Gender and Women's Studies

Additional Institution or Organisation

Gender and Women's Studies


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Arts

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