Asst Prof Laavanya Kathiravelu is a sociologist whose research sits at the intersection of three interrelated themes – migration, ethnicity and urban diversity. These have been the foci of her fieldwork and publications since the start of her academic career, and she continues to build on these strengths while developing a unique perspective as a scholar from outside the traditionally dominant areas of knowledge production (ie Europe and North America). She hopes to problematise, interrogate and reinterpret disciplinary conceptions and established theories and methodologies, by drawing insights from non-Western empirical and intellectual resources.
Asst Prof Kathiravelu obtained her PhD in Sociology from Macquarie University in 2011. She then spent three years at the Max Plank Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity as postdoctoral fellow before being appointed Assistant Professor at National Technological University, Division of Sociology. Asst Prof Kathiravelu was awarded the Fung Global Fellowship by Princeton University, which supports early career applicants who have demonstrated outstanding scholarly achievement.
In this project, Asst Prof Kathiravelu studies the integration of immigrants through legal and informal means, by comparing Singapore and Qatar as models. These two nation-states are both countries that experience extremely high rates of migration.
In Singapore, it is estimated that 40% of the population are foreign-born, and a growing proportion of the population are children of first-generation immigrants. In Qatar, foreigners far outnumber locals and have not had access to any form of more permanent legal affiliation such as citizenship, until the recent institution of a Permanent Resident category. For Qatari-born second-generation migrants, this new possibility of belonging to the state is one that could have significant effects on migration flows, and ways in which they integrate into the nation. Comparing Singapore and Qatar will provide examples of how different models of formal belonging can generate different outcomes for immigrant integration and national solidarity.
Data will be collected through a combination of quantitative surveys in both Singapore and Qatar, as well as qualitative interviews and focus groups to understand how second-generation immigrants integrate into the host country and understand the affective nature of their belonging.
Findings from this project will be of direct use to policymakers and agencies involved in designing programmes and initiatives to integrate new citizens in Singapore. This research also addresses important issues of national belonging.