Remitting Precarity: Landscapes of Transnational Gendered Poverty

Authors: Rachel Silvey*, U. of Toronto
Topics: Migration, Gender, Development
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Marriott Ballroom Salon 2, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The emergent serial labor migration patterns (ParreƱas et al., 2018 [IMR forthcoming]) of migrant domestic workers are shaped by their precarious positions in the global labor market. To help understand the repeated labor migration of domestic workers across multiple labor import states, we explore the cycle of their migration as constitutive of a series of precarities. Based on interviews with migrant domestic workers from the Philippines (n = 85) and Indonesia (n = 79) working in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as well as fieldwork in training centers and archival work with training documents, we illustrate the reproduction and embodiment of precarious lives across the various stages of the migration cycle. The precarious remittance landscape in which they are migrating is produced through: (1) the precarity of migration engendered by their dependency on a recruitment agency to determine not only their employer but also country of destination; (2) the precarity of labor that is engendered by their employment in countries of destination that offer only very limited rights to domestic workers; and finally (3) the precarity of future resulting from the low levels of income, savings and investment they are able to accumulate. This precarity chain helps us understand the persistent subordination of domestic workers in the global care economy. It shows how the mobility of domestic workers from Southeast Asia to the Middle East coincides with their continued socio-economic and labor market immobility, and fuels a "remittance trap" among the families, communities, and countries they have departed for work.

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