by Christelle M. Jovenir (Master in International Affairs)
Christelle M. Jovenir, a Master in International Affairs student from the Department of Political Science at the University of the Philippines Diliman, currently working as a Policy Adviser at the Embassy of New Zealand in the Philippines, was selected to participate in the global professional fellowship program of Winter School in Social Sciences and Humanities focused on Transnational Migration in Southeast Asia (TRIMSEA) along with 17 other researchers from Southeast Asian and French universities. This fellowship program, held from 27 November to 9 December 2023, was hosted across two vibrant cities, Bangkok, Thailand, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, organized by Institut de Recherche Sur L’Asie du Sud-Est Contemporaine (IRASEC).
This immersive program aimed at fostering knowledge co-production between scholars from Southeast Asia and French universities was a collaborative effort between several esteemed institutions, including the Institute of Asian Studies at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, the Faculty of Built Environment at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, and the Asia Research Institute at the National University of Singapore. Supported by Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) Institut des Sciences Humaines et Sociales and the French Embassies in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, the program brought together lecturers, academics, and professionals from international organizations to delve into the complexities of transnational migration and migration politics.
The curriculum was rich with lectures delivered by scholars from partner universities, senior researchers from CNRS, and representatives from international bodies such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Organization for Migration. Dr. Jorge V. Tigno, Professor of Political Science from the UP Department of Political Science, contributed to the program with a presentation focused on Overseas Labor Migration from the Philippines: Policy, Features, and Impacts on Migrants.
The experience extended beyond lectures, encompassing insightful field visits, including a meeting with the Indonesian Ambassador to Malaysia, H.E. Datuk Hermono. These engagements provided first hand exposure to the intricate dynamics and realities of migration in Southeast Asia.
The program strategically chose Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur due to the region’s pivotal role as a vibrant transnational migration nexus. Southeast Asia’s diverse migration types, from low-paid migrant workers to refugees, formed the focal point of study. With Thailand and Malaysia hosting significant migrant populations and having distinct approaches to migration regulation, these countries provided a compelling empirical backdrop for studying labor market segmentation, political incorporation, and the multifaceted aspects of migration careers.
For Christelle Jovenir and other participants, the program offered a unique opportunity to explore the convergence of migration types around labor issues, observe diverse work regimes, and examine processes of integration in host countries. The contrasting approaches of Thailand and Malaysia in managing labor migration and refugee populations provided an ideal canvas for understanding the complexities inherent in migration, labor markets, and political incorporation.
The fellowship research trip culminated in a graduation ceremony, marking the end of an enriching and insightful experience for all participants, including Christelle Jovenir, as they returned with invaluable insights into the intricate fabric of transnational migration in Southeast Asia.