Migrant Workers in Singapore: Lives and Labour in a Transient Migration Regime

A book I’ve been co-editing was finally published this year. In the time since its conception early in the pandemic to the time that it was published, migrant construction workers continued to have their mobility severely restricted as they were subject to strict rules on movement–inviting us to reflect on migrant workers’ access to and experiences of public space in Singapore. I am grateful to the considerable work put in by the contributors and the co-editors to bring this book to life.

This collection looks beyond the immediacy of heightened concerns surrounding the migrant worker population in the time of the COVID-19 crisis. It gives attention to broader questions of migrant lives and labour in a city-state that has thrived on migration since its beginnings as a colonial entrepôt. Serving as a primer for the general and academic reader interested in developing a richer understanding of the structural conditions of migrant construction work, the book draws together key studies on migrant construction work in Singapore.

The chapters in this volume, contributed by a range of academic experts, spotlight the processes of unequal global development, precarious work, and welfare exclusion that have rendered low-waged labour migrants especially vulnerable to the pandemic. They also highlight migrant men’s social identities beyond the sphere of work by attending to their experiences and strategies as members of transnational families and social-cultural communities. Accompanying the chapters are short reflections from the authors that not only summarise the findings but also provide updates on the research context in view of the recent situation.

The rise of the professional Dungeon Master in Singapore

Getting paid to run Dungeons & Dragons games! It is a thing, and it is growing fast in Singapore. I love that storytellers and community organisers are being valued in this way, but I also wonder about this shift from hobby to business, and about the understanding of what a Dungeon Master’s skills are (as rule-enforcer, shared-space-maker, world-builder, keeper-of-secrets, and softcore mathematician).

In case you missed the first link above, I talked to professional DMs from Tinker Tales Studios and TableMinis, as well as Melvyn Sin, a freelance DM, here. We discussed safe spaces, the terrors of improv, and D&D for kids, among a thousand other things I wasn’t able to put into the piece but which I hope to transcribe and publish on the internet sometime soon.

Come talk to me on Twitter @KellynnWee or Instagram @braided or email me (kellynn.wee [at] gmail [dot] com) if you have any interest in collaborating or also if you want to discuss favourite D&D classes or recommend good one-shots to run as a DM.

Ang Mo Kio under lockdown

I’ve shared this widely and had it widely shared by my very supportive and beloved academic and friend community (thank you, thank you, thank you), many of whom read it carefully and wrote to me with their own reflections, but I want to archive it here, too.

Here’s an essay about everyday life during lockdown in Singapore, what walking Chai has taught me about my neighbourhood, and how people challenge surveillance by building new community spaces, published on anthrocovid.com.

I miss smiling at people unmasked; I miss the civil inattention we practise in trains and lifts and bus stops; I miss being alone in a sea of strangers while feeling cosseted and amused and calmed by the very many quirks of a crowd. I miss being an observer of the populated city.