Ageing Out of Place: Comparative Perspectives from Southeast Asia
Time & LocationSession 1
Wed 09:00–10:30 Room 1.406
- Megha Amrith Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity
- Victoria Kumala Sakti Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity
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- Ageing in and out of Place: Perceived Retirement Life and Aging Among Singaporeans Living in Shanghai Leng Leng Thang National University of Singapore
Sylvia Ang National University of Singapore
In an age of growth and diversity in global migration, the scholarship on migration has expanded from a focus on labor migration to encompass aging concerns. This is exemplified in the emergence of the field of international retirement migration with a tendency to focus on active and middle-class retirees seeking a better life of leisure overseas (see Warnes, 2009). There is, however, a gap in the literature on understanding post-work migrants and aging. For those who have worked long-term overseas, how do they perceive "aging in place"? Does retirement mean coming home to "age in place"? Or should where they have built up their networks in the past decade be considered the "place" for them to age in? What are some options they have in terms of places to age in, including a third destination country they were neither born in nor worked in? This paper problematizes the concept of ageing in place. How do linkages in aging, retirement, place and migration help us better understand retirement choices, and how will a sense of displacement and ambivalence affect place making, and contribute to the changing meaning of "aging in place" among migrants in this age of global migration and longevity? Through our study focusing on the voices of 16 Singaporeans age 50 and above who are living long-term in China as employers, employees and spouses from project TRACE (Transnational Relations and Care Ethics), we hope to contribute to the understanding of diversifying experiences and perceptions on retirement and aging.
- Ambivalent Belongings and Place-Bound Framings of Older Age: Experiences of Migrant Domestic Workers over Time Megha Amrith Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity
Discourses on ‘ageing in place’ typically take a nation-centered framework of ageing. In so far as migration enters into the discussion, the focus is on the role of migrants in caring for ageing populations who want to age-in-place and receive home-based care. Little is said, however, about the ageing experiences of the thousands of migrants labourers that move across local and national borders in Southeast Asia. This paper focusses on low-wage migrant workers, particularly domestic workers, who work abroad in Singapore over decades. Specifically, it engages with how notions of home, belonging and place come into domestic workers’ reflections on their life trajectories and in their imaginaries of the future in older-age. While domestic workers have long been constructed by Singapore’s migration and labour frameworks as ‘out of place’, temporary presences in the wider national imaginary, this paper examines how migrant domestic workers create a sense of home and place in Singapore over time, in spite of living under conditions of long-term precarity and restricted mobility. Yet institutional policies mean that domestic workers must, at age 60, return to and retire in their home countries, places in which they now feel out of place and where questions relating to security, companionship, everyday routines and dependence raise powerful emotional anxieties. Processes of ageing bring into sharp focus the ambivalence of belonging among migrants, as well as the inequalities and static place-bound framings of low-wage labour, pension and social security regimes in contemporary Southeast Asia.
- Health Inequalities Among Rural Indonesian Elderly: Why Gender Matters? Muhammad Ulil Absor Australian National University
Presently, there are 21 million people aged 60 and over in Indonesia, and this number is projected to increase to 48 million by 2035. A high proportion of these older persons lives in rural areas, commonly being areas from which younger people have moved to the cities, making life more difficult for older adults. The urbanisation of young people raises an essential question about the well-being of the left behind older persons, particularly on their health status. This paper aims to examine the relationship between health status and sex of the elderly, how and in what way it varies across socio-demographic groups of ageing population in rural Indonesia. Data is drawn from the 2016 Ageing in Rural Indonesian Survey (ARIS). This survey employed a mixed-methods approach combining quantitative and qualitative methods. This paper argues that ageing is not a gender neutral. Elderly women are significantly more likely to have a lower level of health status in four dimensions of health including chronic disease, disability level, psychological impairment and self-rated health than elderly men. The ethnographic content analysis and thematic analysis explain the influence of culture on the health variation between senior women and men. The higher prevalence of female disability and illness might reflect gender inequality across their life course reflected in their education, labour force participation, caring roles, social networks and relaxing activities.
- The Mobilities and Lifestyle Constellations of Transnational Retirees of Thai Descent Tassya Putho University of Surrey
The mass migration of Thais to the United States was at its peak in the 1970s with the predominant flow of new graduates seeking novel experiences in the ‘land of opportunity’. Currently, many of these skilled transnational retirees have transitioned into retirement after working in the United States for most of their lives. They are valuable resources to sending and receiving societies with regards to their accumulated human capital and access to financial freedom and leisure time. Despite being naturalised U.S. citizens, they engage in everyday mobilisations of culture across multiple geographical spheres. They also opt for significant decisions in later life, including the decision to return or not return to the homeland, entangled within a spectrum of mobility and lifestyle choices. This study adopts a lifestyle-migration lens and qualitative approach to exploring the spectrum of mobilities of this culturally specific group of transnational retirees. Results from 52 interviews conducted in the United States and Thailand with the retirees and their families revealed a fluidity of movements and determinants that were closely linked to familial and social ties, constructs of home and identity, physical and emotional wellbeing, and provisions of care in later life. This research seeks to offer new insights on this particular group of transnational retirees as well as present a comparative study on those with different residential strategies with the ultimate goal to develop Thailand at the community level as the place of return as well as popular travel destination for these transnational retirees.
Ageing in place as a conceptual framework has long dominated policy and gerontological perspectives of what constitutes a ‘good life’ in older-age. This concept involves the idea of staying in the same or preferred ‘place’ – narrowly defined as static, rather than fluid and dynamic – over a sustained period of time. Such understanding often assumes that discontinuity in place corresponds to problematic ageing processes. However, as global migration continues to grow and for ever-diversifying reasons, people are more likely ageing across places, in places other than those from which they originate and engaging in diverse practices of place-making. Similarly, many older people who remain ‘in place’ are shaping and being influenced by family members’ migration projects. There is therefore acute need to explore the multiple and shifting experiences of ageing that go beyond a singular understanding of place.
In this panel, we invite contributions to reflect on the linkages of ageing, place and migration. The concept of ageing out of place (Lewis 2009) will be critically examined in light of ongoing migration and displacement in Southeast Asia, together with the increasing normalcy of being in and belonging to multiple places at the same time. A comparative focus on Southeast Asia provides a unique opportunity to consider sociocultural and political specificities within the region, such as different regimes of ageing care and of migration; as well as connections between places in light of greater regional integration and mobility, while also critically engaging with dominant assumptions embedded in Euro-American ‘models’ of ageing. Papers may focus on different kinds of mobilities in and across the region including: temporary and long-term migration, labour migration, political exile and forced migration, or mobilities related to family care or intimacy in older-age. We welcome contributions from different disciplines adopting qualitative, creative or mixed-methods approaches.