Weapons of the Weak? South–South Migration and Power Politics in the Philippines–GCC Corridor

Froilan T Malit, Gerasimos Tsourapas

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Abstract

How do labor migrants serve as instruments of leverage against countries of destination across the Global South? Although international studies scholars are paying increasing attention to the interplay between power politics and cross-border mobility, scant work exists on the intricacies of South–South migration. This article expands research on migration interdependence by examining the range of strategies available to countries of origin, and the factors that determine their success. The argument put forth is two-fold. First, weaker countries of origin can use two sets of strategies to coerce stronger countries of destination, namely “restriction,” the curbing of the outflow of labor migrants, or “repatriation,” the forced return of labor migrants. Second, target countries’ degree of compliance is determined by their migration interdependence vulnerability, with repatriation being more potent than restriction. We test this empirically by drawing on a variety of primary and secondary sources as we examine how the Philippines successfully coerced the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait between 2014 and 2021. Selected within a least likely research design, the two cases demonstrate how a weaker country of origin may use labor migration as a successful instrument of leverage against two stronger countries of destination. Overall, the article adds a missing component to existing theorization of migration interdependence, enhances existing understandings of cross-border mobility and power politics, and provides original insights into overlooked processes of South–South migration.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberksab010
JournalGlobal Studies Quarterly
Volume1
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Aug 2021

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