Research Activities
Geographies of Race and Class: The Place and Placelessness of Migrant Filipina Domestic Workers
2nd Meeting (Group 2)
■Speaker :Rhacel Salazar Parrenas Associate Professor University of California, Davis
■Place :Meeting Room, 5th Building, Ryukoku University, Fukakusa campus
■Date :October 22, 2005
■Number :05020201
Commentator:Wako Asato Japan Society for the Promotion of Science/Economics Ryukoku university

Based on her fieldwork of Filipina domestic workers in Italy, Dr. Parreñas questioned the validity of a dominant theory in migration studies. According to the established view on migrant workers, while most male migrants tend to aspire to return to their home country, female migrants, having won gender equality in the host countries and thus raised their social standing, have a tendency to prefer permanent settlement. Contrary to this view, her research on Filipina domestic workers in Italy found that most of them do not wish to stay in Italy on a permanent basis. Therefore she argued that in considering the willingness of female migrant workers to remain permanently in their host countries, it is important to adopt a multi-faceted approach that takes into account not only gender differences but also discriminations based on ethnicity and class.

Mr. Asato, the discussant, supplemented Dr. Parreñas’ argument by pointing out two important regulations imposed by the governments of the host countries that encourage migrant Filipina domestic workers to return to the Philippines. Firstly, as domestic workers are classified as a category of unskilled labour, they cannot usually obtain permanent resident status in their host countries. Secondly, it is almost impossible for them to change their occupation and move to more highly skilled jobs.

During the discussion, a comment was made on the comparison with Mexican migrant workers working in the United States. It was also pointed out that when we discuss the placelessness of migrant workers in their host countries, we should not only look at it in physical terms, but also in a psychological sense.