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In between leaving and being left behind: mediating the mobilities and immobilities of Indonesian non‐migrants

Global Networks

Published online on


In this article, I consider how and why some non‐migrants partially inhabit migrant subjectivities. Based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Central Java, Indonesia, I describe the experiences of those who embarked on pre‐departure migration processes, but failed to leave the country. Men were often victims of fraud; women typically ran away from the confines of training centres. When redirected away from the border spaces of airports and recruitment centres, they typically identify themselves and are perceived by kin and neighbours as ‘former’ transnational migrants. I analyse how migration infrastructure – intersecting institutions, agents and technologies – produces such subjectivities in‐between conventional migrant and non‐migrant categories. These positions in between leaving and staying illuminate the infrastructural conditions that enable, constrain and mediate transnational mobilities. These cases of non‐departure show the expansive social and spatial effects of migration infrastructure beyond the facilitation of transnational movement. Such less considered (im)mobilities of non‐migrants point to the diverse ways in which migration institutions and agents mediate the circulation of persons between and within national borders.