Migrants' Lives in the Virtual Village
Publication Year: 2012
Contract workers from the Philippines make up one of the world's largest movements of temporary labor migrants. Deirdre McKay follows Filipino migrants from one rural community to work sites overseas and then home again. Focusing on the experiences of individuals, McKay interrogates current approaches to globalization, multi-sited research, subjectivity, and the village itself. She shows that rather than weakening village ties, temporary labor migration gives the village a new global dimension created in and through the relationships, imaginations, and faith of its members in its potential as a site for a better future.
Published by: Indiana University Press
Series: Tracking Globalization
My deepest debts are to my friends in my field site of Haliap who have generously shared their triumphs and frustrations with me over many years. Keeping their real names confidential and blurring some of their identifying details is the least I can do to protect their privacy; this precludes a roll call of all my key...
People in the Philippines speak nearly seven hundred languages. One of these many languages is a distinctively Filipino variant of English. Most of my respondents in this project speak four or five Filipino languages as well as English, switching codes as the context demands. In transliterating the terms...
Introduction: The Parade
A LONG LINE OF people marched up a winding road toward the summit of the hill. In the lead were gray-haired older women. Bare-chested and wearing bark-cloth skirts, they carried baskets of sweet potatoes on their heads. The women walked behind a placard reading “The Stone Age.” Their bare feet...
1. Finding the Village
TO FIND A VILLAGE like Haliap, we could locate a dot on a map or a cluster of buildings and fields on Google Earth. We could even use Google to map Haliap’s presence in the news or consult platforms such as Facebook or Friendster to chart the social networks of its inhabitants. Yet it would be a mistake...
2. Becoming a Global Kind of Woman
AROUND THE WORLD, WHAT women do and don’t do—and how they look while doing it—is evidence of civilization and development and a matter of national pride. To understand the Philippines, with its land-based migrant labor force predominantly composed of women, we need to understand...
3. Failing to Progress
DEVELOPMENT ITSELF NEVER SEEMED to arrive in Haliap. Instead, its precursors—exercises of classifying, researching, and training— occupied villagers along with a revolving cast of local officials, national agencies, and international donors. These development engagements required villagers to learn...
4. New Territories
BY 2008 HALIAP MIGRANTS in Hong Kong included Angelina as well as Nora, Darcy, Elvie, Priscilla, Sabel, and Maritess, and, finally, Luis himself. Their presence extended Haliap along the MTR (mass transit railway) stations of Hong Kong: Wan Chai, Admiralty, Shau Kei Wan, and the New Territories...
5. Haunted by Images
PHOTOGRAPHS AND VIDEO MESSAGES moving across the village reveal how migration shapes Haliap personhood. This is because photographs help migrants create the shared stories that tie them to those at home. But perhaps the most important thing about photographs is that they do not circulate alone...
6. Moving On
ANGELINA AND LUIS LIVE as if the whole of Haliap has come along with them, observing, judging, expecting, and evaluating their day-to-day lives in Hong Kong. Their village ties continue to shape the ways they aspire to progress, motivating them to move in new and different directions. And, just like many of...
7. Come What May
ANGELINA’S AND LUIS’S LIVES reveal how the new kinds of identities created by the global realm’s new economic forms—here, temporary labor migration—shape dynamic cultures both at home and abroad. As Angelina struggled with being reidentified as balikbayan and Luis negotiated...
Conclusion: The Virtual Village
AS MIGRANTS KEEP HOLD of the intimate relationships between home and abroad, the ways they think and feel about themselves remain located in village relations. Having demonstrated this through the ethnographic detail of Haliap and of Angelina’s and Luis’s lives, I now turn to considering places and people...
On Affect: A Methodological Note
IN WRITING THIS BOOK, I wanted to produce an intimate account of the changes and continuities produced by globalization—and global migration—in the Philippines. I have tried to show how migrants carry with them histories and subjectivities that have been transformed through their encounters...