(Jing) J.W. Hiah

(external) researcher Erasmus School of Law Criminology
Location
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Room
-
Telephone
Email
hiah@law.eur.nl

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Title of Research: Employment or Modern Slavery: Different Perspectives on Informal Labour Relations in Chinese Niches, and the Impact of Human Trafficking policies on Chinese Entrepreneurship in the Netherlands and Romania.

Promotors: Prof. dr. R.H.J.M. Staring and Prof. dr. R. van Swaaningen

In June 2006, the Dutch Social Intelligence and Investigation Service (SIOD) encountered eight Chinese illegal aliens during an inspection of a Chinese restaurant in Eindhoven. The Chinese workers were deported, and the Dutch Supreme Court convicted the restaurant owner of human trafficking, arguing that the employer was well aware of the illegal status of the Chinese workers and subsequently their vulnerable position. The…

Title of Research: Employment or Modern Slavery: Different Perspectives on Informal Labour Relations in Chinese Niches, and the Impact of Human Trafficking policies on Chinese Entrepreneurship in the Netherlands and Romania.

Promotors: Prof. dr. R.H.J.M. Staring and Prof. dr. R. van Swaaningen

In June 2006, the Dutch Social Intelligence and Investigation Service (SIOD) encountered eight Chinese illegal aliens during an inspection of a Chinese restaurant in Eindhoven. The Chinese workers were deported, and the Dutch Supreme Court convicted the restaurant owner of human trafficking, arguing that the employer was well aware of the illegal status of the Chinese workers and subsequently their vulnerable position. The court stated that - compared with Dutch norms - the labour conditions in which these illegal workers were found should be defined as exploitative. However, neither the employers nor the illegal workers perceived themselves to be either perpetrators or victims.

This example elicits questions as to how these informal labour relations and labour conditions are perceived by the different actors (employers, employees, and governmental representatives), how these different perspectives can be explained, and what the consequences are. This incident also raises questions on the impact of human trafficking policies on labour relations and labour conditions in specific ethnic niches. This project aims to describe and explain these different perspectives on labour relations in Chinese niches in the Netherlands and Romania, through multi-sited ethnography and a critical discourse analysis, confronting the emic perspective of Chinese employers and employees with the legal context of modern slavery in the Netherlands and Romania. Theoretical concepts central in this project are moral economy (Scott 1976), reciprocity (Sahlins 1974), social capital (Bourdieu, 1986), guanxi (Smart 1993), and theory of defiance (Sherman 1993).

Jing Hiah MSc. BA. (Penang, 1986) studied Criminology (EUR) and Literary studies (UvA). In 2011, the Dutch association for Criminology (NVC) awarded her the best master's thesis prize in Criminology for her thesis 'Door de ogen van de Baas: Chinese employers and (illegal) employees on illegal labour and exploitation'. Between 2012 and 2013, she worked as a junior researcher and lecturer in the Department of Criminology. Her PhD project, a continuation of her master's thesis, entails comparative research into the meaning of labour relations - often labelled by outsiders as 'modern slavery' - within Chinese communities in the Netherlands and Romania, and the associated implications of immigration and human-trafficking policies.