Colliding rights and wrongs

Intimate labor, health, human rights, and the state in the Gulf

Authored by: Pardis Mahdavi

Routledge Handbook on Human Rights and the Middle East and North Africa

Print publication date:  November  2016
Online publication date:  November  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138807679
eBook ISBN: 9781315750972
Adobe ISBN: 9781317613763


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Migrant–state encounters transform both migrants and the states within which they move and live. Whether in the home or host country, migrant interactions with local and state officials affect and are affected by migrants’ intimate lives. Juxtaposing migrants against a reified and monolithic state eclipses the micro opportunities made possible by state actors. This chapter looks at what happens when migrants encounter the state in its various, personified forms. These personified manifestations of the state include the individuals whom migrants experience as the state or authorities acting on behalf of or in the interests of the state, such as embassy officials, employers, hospital staff, or law enforcement. In these encounters, migrants have opportunities to negotiate their agency specifically within the realm of SRRH and mobilize through their frustrating immobility. In addition, these interactions affect those who present them with challenges and possibilities. The following stories of various dyads and triads, which represent microcosms between migrants and the state, highlight the role of migrants’ intimate lives in producing micro mobilities and movements. Migrants and state officials come across profound opportunities in the small openings throughout their journeys—whether provided, created or imposed—and find possibilities of drawing on intimate lives to change the immobilities of others. These encounters provide an opportunity to look more closely at migrants’ agency as well as the intricate workings of state power.

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