Laura Antona has been awarded an 18-month postdoctoral fellowship by the ESRC to build on her doctoral research, which focusses on the experiences of migrant domestic workers who are no longer willing or able to work-for or live with their employers in Singapore.
Having spent just under a year completing ethnographic fieldwork in a shelter that provides refuge for this population, Laura's research considers how the residents negotiated their everyday lives in this environment and during this time. She centrally questions whether these are spaces of care or violence. Laura will also be furthering this research by tracing migrant domestic workers lives and journeys after their deportation.
Laura joined SoGE as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the beginning of October and will be working part-time, under the mentorship of Dr Sneha Krishnan (Associate Professor in Human Geography). She plans to collaborate with two organisations that she spent considerable time volunteering with while completing fieldwork in Singapore on this work: HOME (the Humanitarian Organisation of Migration Economics) and TWC2 (Transient Workers Count Too), as well as an NGO that runs a shelter and supports former domestic workers in Manila: Spirit of Home Scalabrini, should current fieldwork circumstances change in light of COVID-19.
"My research brings visibility to the everyday lives of thousands of people who are often invisiblised, despite their labour being essential to the functioning of society. Having volunteered in a shelter that housed many women who experienced violence while living and working in Singapore - whether it be physical and/or sexual assault, or different forms of state violence - I feel compelled and, in many ways, obligated to share their experiences in the hope of bringing real transformation to their circumstances."
While born and raised in the UK, Laura grew up within a diasporic community as her father's family were forced to leave their home village during conflict in Cyprus. Growing up she recalls hearing strong opinions about why this happened and the problematic ways in which migrants were treated in the UK. Fascinated by her grandparents' stories and opinions, her interest in migration became firmly cemented.
"While personally interested in my family's past, I really stumbled into academia, not believing myself to be very academic while at school. Despite being quite reluctant to attend university at all, I decided to study something practical (Urban Planning and Design), thinking that I would then leave education as quickly as I could. Instead, I became fascinated by the more theoretical modules that I took, and after working in practice for a short time, ended up applying for an MSc."
During her PhD, she was able to bring together her personal and academic interests and develop a project that centred on the lived experiences of migrant domestic workers in Singapore. She spent just under a year doing ethnographic fieldwork in a shelter for domestic workers who were no longer willing/able to live with their employers.
Over the course of her PhD, and particularly driven by her fieldwork experiences, her research now centres around migration, migrant detention/deportation, violence, body politics, intersectionality and shelters/sheltering.
- The New Normal or Same Old? The Impacts of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Live-in Migrant Domestic Workers in Singapore, Laura Antona, LSE Southeast Asia Blog, 04/11/20.