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Immigrant Women Workers in the Neoliberal Age

Nilda Flores-Gonzalez

Publication Year: 2013

To date, most research on immigrant women and labor forces has focused on the participation of immigrant women on formal labor markets. In this study, contributors focus on informal economies such as health care, domestic work, and the garment industry, where displaced and undocumented women are more likely to work. Because such informal labor markets are unregulated, many of these workers face abusive working conditions that are not reported for fear of job loss or deportation. In examining the complex dynamics of how immigrant women navigate political and economic uncertainties, this collection highlights the important role of citizenship status in defining immigrant women's opportunities, wages, and labor conditions. Contributors are Pallavi Banerjee, Grace Chang, Margaret M. Chin, Jennifer Jihye Chun, Hector R. Cordero-Guzman, Emir Estrada, Lucy Fisher, Nilda Flores-Gonzalez, Ruth Gomberg-Munoz, Anna Romina Guevarra, Shobha Hamal Gurung, Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo, Maria de la Luz Ibarra, Miliann Kang, George Lipsitz, Lolita Andrada Lledo, Lorena Murioz, Bandana Purkayastha, Mary Romero, Young Shin, Michelle Tellez, and Maura I. Toro-Morn.

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Cover

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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Foreword

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pp. ix-xii

Reading Immigrant Women Workers in the Neoliberal Age, I reflected on the description from a PEN World Voices Festival 2012 panel, “There’s so much to say . . . ,” by members from Domestic Workers United. Writing, reading, and sharing their experiences through poetry, these immigrant domestic workers expressed the frustration, anger, loneliness, ...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xiv

This project was possible through generous funding from the Ford Foundation. We want to thank Laine Romero-Alston, Helen Neuborne, and Pablo Farias from the Assets Program at the Ford Foundation for their support for this project. We are especially grateful to former Ford program officer Dr. Héctor Cordero- Guzmán for his commitment to our project. ...

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Introduction. Immigrant Women and Labor Disruptions

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pp. 1-16

In the middle of the first decade of the twenty-first century, a casual observer living anywhere in the United States would have concluded, without hesitation, that immigrant labor was indispensable to this country’s economy. Mexican filmmaker Sergio Arau capitalized on this observation, showing audiences what would happen if a sudden fog simply wiped out the Mexican population in the state of California. ...

Part 1. Critique of the Neoliberal State

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pp. 17-18

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1. Street Vendors Claiming Respect and Dignity in the Neoliberal City

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pp. 19-37

On a cold and windy morning in February 2009, I traveled to downtown Brooklyn to attend a march in support of street vendors called by Esperanza del Barrio, an organization working with Latina street vendors in East Harlem. The objective of the march was to protest the existing caps on food cart permits and general merchandise licenses ...

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2. Elvira Arellano and the Struggles of Low-Wage Undocumented Latina Immigrant Women

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pp. 38-55

For more than a year, Elvira Arellano, a Mexican immigrant, took sanctuary from deportation at the Adalberto United Methodist Church in the heart of Chicago’s Puerto Rican community. Before leaving for Los Angeles she issued the following statement: “My decision to enter sanctuary was a decision based on my faith, my love and responsibility for my son Saúl ...

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3. This Is What Trafficking Looks Like

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pp. 56-78

In the twelve years since the passage of the landmark Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000,1 U.S. journalists, policymakers, heads of state, and celebrities have been greatly preoccupied with the issue identified in both popular and policy discourses as “sex trafficking.” ...

Part 2. Ethnic Enclaves

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pp. 79-80

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4. Gendered Labor: Experiences of Nepali Women within Pan-Ethnic Informal Labor Markets in Boston and New York

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pp. 81-95

A mother who works as a nanny in New York City to provide a good life for her children reports, “I haven’t seen my children for five years. They were very young when I left. They were ten, eleven years old. Now, when I see their photographs, I can’t even recognize them. They’ve changed so much. They’ve grown so much.” ...

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5. Paradoxes of Patriarchy: Contradicting Experiences of South Asian Women in Ethnic Labor Markets

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pp. 96-116

Sufia is a twenty-eight-year-old Pakistani woman who works in an ethnic jewelry store owned by her brother-in-law in the South Asian ethnic labor markets in a large midwestern city. She lives with her brother-in-law’s family in a neighborhood close to the ethnic market and earns between five hundred and one thousand dollars a month, depending on how well the business is doing. ...

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6. Changing Expectations: Economic Downturns and Immigrant Chinese Women in New York City

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pp. 117-130

This chapter elaborates on the evolving New York City Chinese ethnic economy, the changing job market, and the strategies that Chinese women use to find and keep jobs. In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and during the recession that began in 2008, at least a quarter of Chinatown’s workforce was unemployed. ...

Part 3. Informal Economies

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pp. 131-132

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7. From Street Child Care to Drive-Throughs: Latinas Reconfigure and Negotiate Street Vending Spaces in Los Angeles

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pp. 133-143

“¡Tamales! ¡Elotes! ¡Champurrado!” Maria’s voice makes a perennial imprint on a particular noisy Los Angeles intersection. Donning a long, floral print skirt, she seldom changes her ten-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week routine: selling homecooked tamales, steamed corn, and fresh champurrado from a red grocery cart. ...

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8. Living the Third Shift: Latina Adolescent Street Vendors in Los Angeles

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pp. 144-163

Adriana is a thirteen-year-old middle school student in East Los Angeles. During the day, she attends school, but on selected weeknights and on weekends, Adriana and her parents sell food at La Cumbrita, a small street in East Los Angeles where other street-vending families congregate to sell food from their home country, such as pupusas, tamales, atole, and tacos. ...

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9. Reinventing Dirty Work: Immigrant Women in Nursing Homes

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pp. 164-185

Paula, a fifty-nine-year-old widow who emigrated from the Philippines in the mid-1980s, has worked at the same nursing home in California for sixteen years. When asked to describe her work as a certified nursing assistant, she joked that she refers to herself not as a CNA but as a “PAW—professional ass washer.” ...

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10. Extending Kinship: Mexicana Elder Care Providers and Their Wards

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pp. 186-204

In the context of economic globalization, all postindustrial societies have experienced a dramatic growth in their elderly populations. In 2009, for example, three nations—Italy, Germany, and Japan—determined that more than 20 percent of their citizens were over the age of sixty-five (Sokolovsky 2009, 5). ...

Part 4. Grassroots Organizing and Resistance

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pp. 205-206

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11. Immigrant Women Workers at the Center of Social Change: Asian Immigrant Women Advocates

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pp. 207-231

In early 2003, two Korean immigrant women, Chung Hee Cho and Hung Ja Kim, traveled from San Jose to San Francisco to lead a workshop on the topic of English-language dominance. This workshop was part of a core set of leadership trainings developed by Asian Immigrant Women Advocates (AIWA), a grassroots community-based organization ...

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12. Transfronteriza: Gender Rights at the Border and La Colectiva Feminista Binacional

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pp. 232-246

To better understand the ways in which women border dwellers are responding to transnational processes and the effects of neoliberal policies, this chapter focuses on woman-centered activism projects and innovative forms of political organizing and community formation at the U.S./Mexico border. ...

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13. Formalizing the Informal: Highly Skilled Filipina Caregivers and the Pilipino Workers Center

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pp. 247-261

Angel Roxas is a forty-year-old Filipino woman whose dream job is to manage finances and do accounting work.1 She holds a master’s degree in business administration, and for several years before coming to the United States in 2001, she worked as an assistant to the dean of a college in the Philippines. ...

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14. FLOResiste: Transnational Labor, Motherhood, and Activism

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pp. 262-276

FLOResiste is the name of a blog created by Flor Crisóstomo, an immigrant worker and mother turned activist, to denounce neoliberal policies that have led to the migration of women and indigenous people and resulted in the separation of families. In her own words: ...

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Afterword

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pp. 277-278

The essays included in this volume make a unique contribution to our understanding of the current condition and position of immigrant women in the U.S. economy. The volume makes a number of significant contributions that set it apart from other works in the fields of gender, migration, and low-wage work. ...

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Contributors

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pp. 279-286

Pallavi Banerjee is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Sociology at Vanderbilt University. Her research interests are situated at the intersection of sociology of immigration, gender, transnational labor, and minority families; globalization; and feminist theory. ...

Index

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pp. 287-301

Production Notes

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pp. 319-321


E-ISBN-13: 9780252094828
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252037573

Page Count: 352
Publication Year: 2013