Working for (bare) life

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  • Published 20140805
  • ISBN: 9781922182425
  • Extent: 264 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

IT IS GETTING dark as we approach the Cameron Highlands, about two hundred kilometres north of and a three-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. These highlands were once a hill resort for the colonial elite and continue to attract visitors to their temperate climate where tea and strawberries blossom. The rolling hills afford genteel country views and lush green vegetation cushions the landscape.  

Tucked away from the immediate tourist gaze is the industrial-style fruit and vegetable production on farms stretching along the verdant valleys, often guarded from the elements by plastic sheeting that shimmers brightly in the sunlight. These farms produce much of the fresh fruit and vegetables available in Kuala Lumpur supermarkets and they do so relying heavily on migrant labour. Much of the Malaysian economy today is facilitated by the influx of legal and undocumented workers who predominantly toil in low paid and manual work sectors with little or no workplace or health protection. Some of those working on the slopes of the Cameron Highlands are, in fact, refugees. 

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About the author

Gerhard Hoffstaedter

Gerhard Hoffstaedter is a lecturer in Anthropology in the School of Social Science at the University of Queensland and is the course director for...

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