Foucauldian Biopolitics, Irregular Immigrants and COVID-19 in Malaysia

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Omer Faruk Cingir
Thirunaukarasu Subramaniam


This paper addresses issues related to irregular immigrants during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the aim of providing a better understanding of the migration process in Malaysia. This article uses Foucauldian biopolitics as a theoretical framework to explain state practices on immigrant bodies. Firstly, it provides a general picture of irregular immigration in Southeast Asia and Malaysia; secondly, it summarises the effects of the pandemic; and lastly it provides an overall outlook of irregular immigrants and the practices they were exposed to at this time. This study adopts exploratory and explanatory qualitative research design and data collection techniques such as document analysis of non-governmental reports on immigrants, official statistics, declarations and articles produced by third party organisations and interviews with experts. This paper then adopts a post-structuralist perspective within an interpretative paradigm to comprehend the main problems, social arrangements and rationality of institutional dynamics of the management of irregular immigrants. The main findings show that increasing human rights violations of irregular migrants generate from a biopolitical mentality.


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