Departmental Bulletin Paper Indonesian Migrant Workers and their `Ethnic Communities' in Taiwan
Indonesian Migrant Workers and their `Ethnic Communities' in Taiwan

小池, 誠

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The aim of this paper is to examine the socio-cultural impact of migrant workers from Southeast Asian countries, especially Indonesia, on the Taiwanese society, focusing on their `ethnic communities.' In 2010 the number of Indonesian workers increased to 154,596 and constituted 40.89% of the total foreign workers in Taiwan. Over 70% of those workers are women hired as caregivers to look after the elderly, who are forced to do other types of domestic work by their employers. Based on data collected in the anthropological researches I have conducted intermittently in Taipei, Taoyuan and Kaohsiung since 2011, this paper argues that foreign migrant workers constitute a small but significant part of Taiwanese society. They are not permanent immigrants but temporary workers subject to immigration and labor regulations, and must leave Taiwan after their fixed-term contracts expire. Their spatially confined communities are invisible on weekdays in Taiwan. However, mostly near railway stations, nowadays we can see `ethnic communities' where many Southeast Asian workers gather on their days off to enjoy shopping and eating together with their compatriots. For example, near the Taipei Main Station, there is a neighborhood with eleven Indonesian stores and restaurants. These ethnic businesses cater mostly to Indonesian migrant workers, and some of them are managed by former workers married to Taiwanese men. This is termed an `ethnic community,' serving as a nodal point for the networks of Indonesian workers. Some Taiwanese people visit the area to enjoy `exotic' cuisine and goods, but others feel afraid, seeing it as a foreigners' `ghetto.'
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