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The Force of Domesticity

Filipina Migrants and Globalization

Rhacel Parrenas

Publication Year: 2008

Taking as her subjects migrant Filipina domestic workers in Rome and Los Angeles, transnational migrant families in the Philippines, and Filipina migrant entertainers in Tokyo, Parreñas documents the social, cultural, and political pressures that maintain women's domesticity in migration, as well as the ways migrant women and their children negotiate these adversities.

Parreñas examines the underlying constructions of gender in neoliberal state regimes, export-oriented economies such as that of the Philippines, protective migration laws, and the actions and decisions of migrant Filipino women in maintaining families and communities, raising questions about gender relations, the status of women in globalization, and the meanings of greater consumptive power that migration garners for women. The Force of Domesticity starkly illustrates how the operation of globalization enforces notions of women's domesticity and creates contradictory messages about women's place in society, simultaneously pushing women inside and outside the home.

Published by: NYU Press


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pp. ix-x

The opportunity to work on this book would not have been possible without the generous sponsorship of the Institute for Gender Studies at Ochanomizu University and its director, Professor Kaoru Tachi. I am grateful for their generosity, their hospitality, and their creation of an intellectual space for me to work on this project during my stay in Japan in 2005. For...

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Introduction: Filipina Migrants and the Force of Domesticity

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pp. 1-21

“Migration has a woman’s face,” reads a recent educational poster released by the United Nations. The poster announces that nearly 70 percent of emigrants from the Philippines and Indonesia, but half of labor migrants worldwide, are women. In 2002, approximately 175 million people — 2.3 percent of the world’s...

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1. Gender Ideologies in the Philippines

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pp. 22-39

The Philippines sends mixed messages to women. It tells women to work outside the home, but at the same time it maintains the belief that women’s proper place is inside the home. This paradoxical relationship of women to the home underlies the entrance of the Philippines to the global economy. The work of women as...

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2. Patriarchy and Neoliberalism in the Globalization of Care

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pp. 40-61

In the globalization of care, the force of domesticity constrains women not only in the Philippines but also elsewhere, including in richer countries where people’s ability to enter the paid labor force is contingent upon their hiring foreign domestic workers and other low-wage workers. After all, the constitution of gender...

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3. Gender and Communication in Transnational Migrant Families

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pp. 62-86

Inequities of care are manifest not only between foreign domestic workers and their employers but also between women in the maintenance of transnational migrant families. Somewhat like their employers, migrant mothers rely on other women to help them balance work and family, but in this case they rely on the...

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4. The Place and Placelessness of Migrant Filipina Domestic Workers

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pp. 87-109

This chapter revisits my study on migrant Filipina domestic workers in Rome and in Los Angeles. In this study, I argued that the migration of women is a movement from one patriarchal system to another. Migrant Filipina domestic workers, I argued, flee the patriarchal system of the Philippines, only to enter the patriarchal...

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5. The Derivative Status of Asian American Women

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pp. 110-133

My discussion now enters the realm of the law and moves to the immigration policies of the United States as they pertain to Asian American women, of which one subgroup is Filipino American women. Filipinos migrated in large numbers beginning in the early twentieth century, as colonial subjects of the United States...

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6. The U.S. War on Trafficking and the Moral Disciplining of Migrant Women

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pp. 134-168

At the turn of the twenty-first century, the United States declared war on its perceived two greatest threats to democracy — terrorism and human trafficking. The war on trafficking did not result from an attack against the United States but instead emerged from the self-imposed moral responsibility of the United States...

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Conclusion: Analyzing Gender and Migration from the Philippines

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pp. 169-173

Migrant Filipina workers constitute one of the largest contemporary migrant groups, yet their experiences remain marginal in current theorizations of gender and migration. In this book, I revisited my work on Filipina labor migration in order to interrogate how gender shapes their experiences of migration. In doing so, I...


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pp. 175-185


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pp. 187-207


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pp. 209-211

About the Author

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p. 213

E-ISBN-13: 9780814768556
E-ISBN-10: 0814768555
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814767344
Print-ISBN-10: 0814767346

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2008

OCLC Number: 794927037
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Force of Domesticity

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Foreign workers, Philippine.
  • Women foreign workers -- United States.
  • Women household employees -- United States.
  • Filipino Americans -- Social conditions.
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