Home » Publications » Vol. 18, No. 2 (2022) » “I Want to Go Home, But I Can’t Leave”: Narratives of the South Asian Diaspora in Brunei During COVID-19

“I Want to Go Home, But I Can’t Leave”: Narratives of the South Asian Diaspora in Brunei During COVID-19


The global outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic caused unforgiving circumstances, compromising the socioeconomic well-being of migrant workers. In this context, drawing upon qualitative interviews with South Asian male migrant workers in elementary occupations and sales and service roles in Brunei Darussalam, this paper investigates their lived experiences in the country during the pandemic. This paper employs the conceptual lens of diaspora and moral economy, specifically moral remittance, to reveal their connection to their homeland and the ways they demonstrate their responsibility and obligation to their families. Twenty-three research participants were recruited via purposive and snowball sampling techniques, and the interview data were audio-recorded and transcribed before the data analysis. Adopting Clarke and Braun’s (2013) phases of thematic analysis, the interview data were rigorously analysed through the meaning-making process and to explore new themes that underscore the distinctive contribution of the local environment to the lived experiences of the participants. Three prominent themes that capture their experience during the pandemic were identified: employment security, concern for oneself and family, and the responsibility to provide care and protection, which were manifested through remittance and continuing engagement with their families. The subsequent data analysis also reveals that these themes are indeed conscious expressions of responsibility and moral obligation due to the deteriorating pandemic situation in their home country that exacerbated their families’ economic vulnerability and challenging livelihood.



SCImago Journal & Country Rank