Geoforum’s Editorial paper, titled Labour geographies on the move: Migration, migrant status and work in the 21st century, by Michelle Buckley, Siobhán McPhee, and Ben Rogaly introduces a themed issue on migrant work and employment which originates from three events held at the Annual Association of American Geographer’s conference in Tampa, Florida in 2014. The first were two sessions the writers organized, each filled with rich contributions that probed the intersections between migration scholarship, theory on migrant work and employment, and the subfield of labour geography. These sessions and this themed issue have emerged at a time in which flows of migration arising from a diverse array of factors – from individual choices, labour market change, climate destabilization, ethnic, religious and racial persecution or war – are fundamentally reshaping labour markets across the global north and south.
Together, the papers in this themed issue offer insight into the role of national and local state authorities in producing precarious employment conditions for migrant workers across the global north and south, point to some of the methodological limits of current labour geography and their impacts on the theorization of agency, suggest new understandings of the temporality of both employer and worker agency, and illuminate the political constraints produced through the intersection of precarious residency, aspirations for various forms of citizenship and unjust employment conditions. Perhaps just as importantly, however, part of the value of these papers lies in what they do not address directly, but towards which they (alongside other salient migration research) broadly point labour geography as a subfield.
Read and download the editorial here.
* This themed issue was dedicated to the memory of the late Dr Kerry Preibisch, who contributed so much to understanding and advocating the cause of low-paid migrant workers in Canadian agriculture (see, for example, Preibisch, 2010). Kerry’s tragically early death has robbed the field of a major scholarly voice – both critical and compassionate.