Urban refugees in a graduated sovereignty: the experiences of the stateless Rohingya in the Klang Valley

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Abstract

Employing Aihwa Ong's notion of ‘graduated sovereignty,’ this article problematizes urban displacement in the context of neoliberal citizenship. It follows the experiences of the stateless Rohingya, who, despite their protracted situation in the Klang Valley, are considered as only temporarily residing there. Disqualified from idealized citizenship based on a capitalistic Muslim subjectivity, they are disciplined mainly as low-skilled workers in the realm of the informal economy. Although internalization of neoliberal values (by the more entrepreneurial and capitally endowed Rohingya) allows for more cosmopolitan solidarity with citizens, it still does not lead to citizen subject-making, suggesting racism and racialization in the governmentality of the population. Excluded from neoliberalism, Rohingya life in Malaysia is characterized by multiple taxation and interventions that make long-term residency in Malaysia unsustainable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)839-854
Number of pages16
JournalCitizenship Studies
Volume18
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2014

Keywords

  • Rohingya
  • neoliberal citizenship
  • taxation
  • urban refugees

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