Geraldine Pratt

Professor

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Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - May 2019)
Outsourcing the border : recruiters and sovereign power in labour migration to Canada (2019)

Drawing on multi-sited qualitative fieldwork, this dissertation examines the recruitment and migration process of temporary migrants through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program for work in lower-skilled jobs in Western Canada. Situated in an understanding of Canada as a recruited nation, I trace shifts in immigration policy that prioritize economic development and which have led to more market-driven and temporary migration flows. With a focus on recruitment practices, the dissertation contributes to theorizations of the “migration industry.” I take third-party recruiters, labour market intermediaries who facilitate and regulate migrant flows, as an entry point for considering how practices of gatekeeping and brokering (re)produce migrant subjects and the borders of the state. My analysis focuses on more “legitimate” recruiters because of an interest in disclosing power relationships in the legal, everyday business of recruitment. It reveals that even as some recruiters provide significant assistance and care, their actions and motivations can also produce and intensify precarity for migrant workers vis-à-vis their employers and the state. At the heart of this dissertation is an argument about configurations of state power—specifically, about forms and spatializations of sovereign power. My analysis examines the position of recruiters within the labour migration cycle and how their interactions with the state enable their legitimation as mobile bordering agents. I posit that recruiters are “petty sovereigns,” who make largely unsupervised and discretionary decisions that impact migrant access to the transnational labour market and the Canadian nation-state. These decisions play out in a transnational sphere, at the front-end of the migration process, and in spaces beyond Canadian jurisdiction. In a market-driven context, the devolution and outsourcing of migrant selection and admission from the state to employers, and employers to contracted third-party recruiters, effectively contributes to the contracting out of accountability. While they are integral to the regulation of labour markets and cross-border flows, recruiters remain largely invisible in many accounts of migration, and one objective of this dissertation is to write these agential actors into larger discourses on neoliberal governance and migration management.

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Holding spaces: geographies of Filipino-Canadian students' educational experiences (2017)

No abstract available.

Foreign born soldiers and the ambivalent spaces of citizenship (2012)

Foreign-Born Soldiers and the Ambivalent Spaces of Citizenship examines the interlocking politics of immigration and citizenship, labor and militarism, and race and gender. I explore two cases of militarized citizenship: Filipino recruits in the U.S. military and Nepalese Gurkha soldiers in the British Army. The bulk of the thesis engages the lives of Filipino migrants who enlist in the U.S. military as a collective pathway to American citizenship for themselves and their families. Filipino nationals comprise the highest percentage of foreign-born military recruits, a trend enabled by the fact that U.S. citizenship is not required to serve in the armed forces and promoted by the colonial history of the U.S. in the Philippines. Filipinos are the only foreign-born nationals permitted to enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces without having to immigrate to the United States. Filipinos, in other words, are the exception to the permanent residency requirement necessary to join the U.S. military. Citizenship is, however, granted posthumously to any “alien” or “non-citizen national” whose death occurs on active duty, providing a legal “death dividend” for surviving relatives. I observe how the working lives of these migrants illuminate the new mobility of global (militarized) labor, a form of economic discipline facilitated by the state in the era of flexible accumulation. Over a period of twelve months, I conducted a series of in-depth interviews with Filipino military families in the San Francisco Bay Area. In the cases under study, the families of U.S. military personnel killed in action refused – in political protest – the offer of posthumous citizenship. These testimonies illuminate and juxtapose mundane and spectacular instances of state violence against agents of the state and their next of kin in a way that reveals conflicts inherent to incorporation and resistance internal to enlistment.

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Unmapping the metropolis : urban restructuring, governmental logics, and adivasi rights in liberalizing Ahmedabad (2010)

This thesis examines the struggles and conditions of Baoris and Chharas, two adivasi(indigenous) communities living in Ahmedabad, India. It engages with the histories through which these communities were transformed into criminalized populations under the Criminal Tribes Act of 1871. As mapped Criminal Tribes, Baoris and Chharas were brought into a repressive policy apparatus designed to discipline and regulate, control and reform subaltern adivasi populations. This work documents the effects of this history in the post-colonial present. I assess Baoris and Chharas’ differentiated inclusion and exclusion within the long and troubled trajectory of India’s governmental power. Their struggles are situated within the dramatic recalibration of governmental logics and urban restructuring within the liberalizing metropolis. I consider the negotiation of rights and entitlements in a time and place wherein the Indian state is jettisoning its constitutional responsibilities to provide social welfare and democratic justice. This work argues that liberalization produces the informal to push the poor beyond the pale of legality, and suspend the possibility of accessing the technologies and categories of formal governance. I examine how the un-mapping of responsibilities, rights, and visibilities represents a central mechanism driving an emergent urban developmentalism that is reordering the city’s moral, legal and physical landscapes. Just as Baoris and Chharas’ experiences figure the greater erosion of rights and entitlements, their organizing also demonstrates how the developmental and rights-protecting apparatus of the Indian state remains a critical site of oppositional politics. I document their attempts to access and exercise technologies of governing in order to position themselves as legible populations within the classifications and categories of state power.

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Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
"Just add colour" : unintended whiteness in Vancouver theatre and arts and culture policies in Canada (2018)

Common around the world, the arts are considered an expression of culture and are a powerful vehicle for communicating and understanding a nation’s values and collective identity. Diversity is often considered a defining characteristic of Canadian identity, but the arts in Canada has long struggled with its own lack of diversity. This thesis explores the relationship between Canada’s multiculturalism and cultural policies, and how this relationship has resulted in an unintended whiteness in Canadian arts and culture. Focusing on theatre in Greater Vancouver, this relationship is illustrated in two ways: the first, an exploration of artistic expression outside of Canada’s official languages which demonstrate the limiting effects of bilingualism policies on linguistic and cultural expression in Canada, and explores transnationalism as a possible catalyst for new constructions of culture, citizenship, and belonging. The second example explores how theatre practitioners in Greater Vancouver conceptualize, create, and understand diversity in specific ways that perpetuate the invisible hierarchies of whiteness, and make it difficult for diversity to become part of the mainstream. For theatre artists and organizations in Vancouver, diversity has been defined as racialized difference and power dynamics that have resulted in a continued othering. I argue that this relationship ultimately results in a preference for and reproduction of Eurocentric models and artistic values. This thesis questions the role and responsibility of Canadian cultural institutions as accurate representations of “Canadian” identity, and advocates for innovative approaches to cultural policy that would better serve and leverage the unique potential and role of cultural communities in Canada.

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Bare care : working within/reworking restructured long-term care (2018)

In the past nearly two decades in British Columbia (B.C.), Canada, the provincial government has restructured its responsibility for elder care, ceded to the private and financial sector an ever more prominent role, and opened up investment potentials for global capital. With this as context, I investigate the political economic developments and priorities, as well as everyday and uneven geographies of long-term care sector restructuring. Through comparative ethnographic case studies in a for-profit and a non-profit care facility in Vancouver, B.C., I explore how restructuring shapes the everyday conditions, practices, and relations of work and care.Drawing on workers’ experiences and perspectives, I generate a nuanced and intimate account of care work reorganization and labour process change. Understanding labour as embodied, I look at how workers’ bodies and subjectivities are enrolled into and affected by restructuring. I find that restructured care work entails dehumanization and is premised on the expendability of workers’ bodies, and emotional and mental energies. But it also contradictorily requires, cultivates, and draws on workers’ emotional labour to ensure quality care under deteriorating conditions. I look at how the embodied impacts of restructuring, including work intensification, injuries, and burnout, erode workers’ quality of life, future security, and even their family relations. I also explore the potentials and limitations of institutional and worker strategies that are employed to manage, buffer, or exploit restructured care settings.Disrupting dominant conceptions of restructuring as rigid and uniform, these case studies show that restructuring processes and outcomes are not only flexible and particular, but are mediated by a constellation of actors, motivations, relationships, and practices. They also revealthat very different levels of care and quality of work, as well as distinct forms of privatization, emerge from the same restructured residential care system. Overwhelmingly, state and capital’s neglect of the basic requirements for quality care and work results in deficits that are borne by frontline caregivers as well as those who must survive within this regime of care. At the same time, the work these caregivers do to fill the gaps in care ultimately aligns with and enables state and capital interests.

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Performing the nation at the frontier : Filipino immigration and settlement in Whitehorse, Yukon (2016)

Over the past decade, Whitehorse, Yukon has emerged as a prominent site of settlement for Filipino newcomers to Canada. The phenomenon largely results from the implementation of new immigration policy in Yukon (starting in 2007) combined with regional economic growth, particularly in the mining sector. On the surface, immigration to Yukon - ostensibly ‘employer driven,’ with Filipino newcomers primarily finding employment in the service sector - bears resemblances to trends observed elsewhere in Canada. Yet the service sector Filipino workers who increasingly feature in the Yukon’s economy do so as permanent, not temporary, immigrants with the right to settle in Canada. This thesis explores the implications of this dynamic, situating it at the broader intersection of immigration and settler colonialism. I demonstrate how new narratives of northern settlement are enrolled in nation-building discourses of multiculturalism that circulate in and about Yukon. I stress how policy discourses support the essentialization of First Nations and Filipino histories. I also argue that state policies locate immigrants and local Indigenous peoples in competitive labor dynamics. In effect, Yukon’s immigration policy demonstrates how the governing of difference also involves processes of governing by difference – infusing performances of national belonging with powerful state imperatives.

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Tracing knowledge and the law : the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry (2013)

In response to public concern over the prolonged serial killings of Vancouver’s Missing Women, in 2010 British Columbia’s provincial government called a public inquiry into the police investigation of Robert William Pickton, the convicted murderer of six women from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Commissions of Inquiry advocates suggest that the quasi-legal framework makes it an ideal tool for exploring this case of juridico-political silence. As an inclusive and collaborative process, public inquiries create a space for hearing the voices that might be silenced in a formal trial. And yet, accounts of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry (MWCI) suggest that it was a highly divisive and exclusionary process. This thesis explores the empirical details of the MWCI asking how modes of knowledge production are mobilized within the legal space it generates and with what effect. Drawing on inquiry transcripts, interviews with legal professionals and community organizers, and theoretical contributions from critical legal studies, performance studies, and archive theory, I query the epistemological and ontological exclusions that shaped the MWCI and their rootedness in naturalized legal codes and categories.

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The politics of accounting for refugees (2011)

Refugees are presented to citizen-subjects in ambivalent terms. They are included within national systems of meaning as subjects that are desired; as subjects innocent of wrong-doing and who maintain the legal right to seek and to enjoy asylum where they see fit. Yet at the same time material and symbolic opportunities to exclude refugees abound. I analyze the furore at the arrival of the MV Sun Sea, a boat of Tamil asylum-seekers, to the shores of British Columbia, to argue that in this case, subjects that would normally be recognized as refugees with little difficulty, were rendered absolutely other; embodiments of an inhumanity that provided citizen-subjects with the sense that their rights could be casually forgotten. I ask the reader to consider the constitutive exclusions necessary to think and practice the refugee as a subject of the law and examine lay and advocate attempts to resignify the refugee with different values; to make the refugee of value to the nation as a productive body and as one that shared a being-in-common with the “fictive we” of the nation. My work with Refugee Community Organizations in London, England, calls into question the value of likeness for the political practice of relating to refugees, arguing that an attempt to become like refugees is bound to be inattentive to the very important ways in which unlikeness anchors all practices of becoming. Finally I engage with refugee story-telling to ask what must be left unexplained to promote a non-violent ethics of relation.

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