Secularization of urban migrants can lead to instability

This article shows that the continuous securitisation of poor urban migrants as undesirable elements of the city and as a threat to urban security, can lead to deeper forms of instability. Based on empirical research, the article explores the challenges and survival strategies of poor informal migrants in Hlaing Thayar, which is the township in Yangon with the largest concentration of informal settlements. While the informal settlers rely on loose networks of relatives and on local ward and religious leaders to cope with the challenges they face, this does not lead to any stable form of self-organisation. Constant threats of evictions and securitisation by government authorities are creating high levels of mobility and feelings of insecurity, which also cause social disputes and lack of social cohesion. Simultaneously, the informal settlements sustain an informal economy and informal forms of governance by local ‘big people’ (lue kyi), including some government officials, who benefit from illegal land sales and from providing documents, like household registers and land papers to the informal migrants. The article raises larger questions about urban security, and the need to find ways of including the many thousands of people who each year migrate to Yangon and to many other cities across the world in order to prevent urban instability.

The article is part of a special issue on the city of Yangon, published by the French journal ‘Moussons’. It draws on research conducted by the DIIS coordinated research project, ‘Everyday Justice and Security in the Myanmar Transition’ (EverJust), which is done in partnership with Yangon University, the Enlightened Myanmar Research Foundation, and Aarhus University. It is funded by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the development research grant. Data collection for this specific research was in addition part of a wider study on urban insecurity and migration, conducted under the DIIS Security and Defence Studies, which is funding by the Danish Ministry of Defence. See the joint report here: Urban Insecurity, Migrants and Political Authority

Source: Reliefweb

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