Universiteit Leiden

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PhD project

“Not all gin and tonics by the pool”: the settlement process of highly skilled immigrants in The Hague and Jakarta, 1945-2015

Why are highly skilled migrants not perceived as migrants in scholarly, policy, and public debates, and to what extent is their settlement process different?

2011 - 2016
Research Profile: Global interaction of people, culture and power through the ages Research Profile: Global interaction of people, culture and power through the ages

Immigration is the talk of town. Highly skilled migrants are, however, seldom the topic of discussion. These scholars, diplomats, engineers, aid workers, and military personnel, are simply not considered migrants. In this research I address the settlement process of these highly skilled professionals, temporarily living in The Hague and Jakarta at various points in time since 1945.

By comparing the opportunity structure available to this type of migrant in both cities over time, I engage with the debates on global and postcolonial cities, western expatriates and brain-drain, and high versus low skilled labor migration. In particular, I challenge the nation-state framework that is dominant in studies of integration, and the North-South divide that exists in publications on highly skilled migration.

The sources I use for this study consist of historical records from the archives of international companies and organizations, women’s clubs, and international schools; municipal and national government archives; local newspapers; and oral histories I collected amongst (former) highly skilled migrants. Despite the fact that these global migrants differ on the basis of their relatively high socioeconomic status and the temporary nature of their stay, they are confronted with historically embedded local and institutional structures that shape their settlement process – sometimes even resulting in them not just drinking gin and tonics by the pool…

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