This paper examines transnational skilled migration and employment as young Filipino workers cross borders to become “labour of luck” in integrated casino resorts in Macau and Singapore. Based on fieldwork in these two casino destinations, this paper engages with the notion of luck and discusses how luck is interpreted and experienced by Filipino resort workers in diverse ways. Employment, upward career and social mobility, trans‐border migration all point to a matter of “luck” when young Filipinos deal with complex issues of contractual employment, labour market insecurity, and the rights to residence. As desirable workers who are fresh, trainable, compliant, energetic, cheap, and willing to move or be moved around, young Filipino workers constitute a large proportion of the casino resort workforce in Macau and Singapore. Many migrate from one country to the next, moving from one job to another, often without stability, welfare, or a sense of career security. They are invariably exposed to heightened risk of exploitation, neglect, and exclusion. However, many continue to put faith in luck, believing that with flexibility, resilience, and good fortune they are able to always find work and opportunity. Their “luck” is closely tied to the speculative development of the Asian casino capitalism and the changing conditions of the labour regime in different destinations. Turning themselves into labour of luck, young Filipino workers wager their future on casino capitalism with all its promised opportunities and unspoken precariousness.


About the Presenter

Juan Zhang is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the School of Social Science, the University of Queensland. Her research interests include transnational mobilities, borders, labour migration, and casinos in Asia. She has published in journals including, Current Sociology, Environment & Planning D, Environment & Planning A, Gender Place & Culture, among others. Her recent co-edited book is entitled The Art of Neighbouring: Making Relations Across China's Borders (University of Amsterdam Press, 2017). Juan serves the editorial board of the journal Transitions: Journal of Transient Migration.

About Anthropology Working Papers

The Working Papers in Anthropology seminar series provides a forum for dissemination of anthropological research and ideas among UQ scholars and invited researchers. All students are invited to attend the series and postgraduate students, from honours upwards, are invited to present their research. The aim is to provide opportunities for students, staff and those from outside UQ, to present and discuss their work in an informal environment.


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